Everybody knows that Richard Cockerill is a passionate man in regards to Leicester Tigers, so passionate he has the odd tendency to overstep the mark.
Passion is a good thing and shows commitment to the club and sport, crossing the line can be a detrimental choice.
To use abusive language directed at any official in rugby is a definite no-no and goes against the fundamental ruling of upholding respect in rugby.
Cockerill has fallen foul of this on more than one occasion. On this occasion his outburst was viewed by a vast array of rugby fans worldwide in the Aviva premiership final, not the best advertisement for English rugby and leading the RFU to take action.
Cockerill was hit with a nine week touchline ban after being found guilty of using obscene, inappropriate and/or unprofessional language and behaviour towards fourth official Stuart Terheege in a reaction to a tackle on Toby Flood.
Tigers found this punishment to be harsh and opted to make an appeal against the judgement. The appeal hearing failed to agree with Cockerill and Leicester Tigers and up held the ban, although took the decision to amend the fixtures involved in the suspension. The suspension now begins on the 24th of August and runs until the 18th of October, including two pre-season fixtures against Jersey and Ulster and ends with a Heineken Cup tie with Treviso.
24 Aug - Jersey (away) 31 Aug - Ulster (home) 8 Sep - Worcester (home) 14 Sep - Bath (away) 21 Sep - Newcastle (home) 29 Sep - Exeter (away) 5 Oct - Northampton (home) 11 Oct - Ulster (away) 18 Oct - Treviso (home)
With the offence taking place in the Aviva premiership final would it not be more apt for the punishment to be served in that competition? Including friendly fixtures is a reduction in its self.
I have no issue with the length of suspension just the rearrangement to appear as if they're still being vigilant but in reality easing the pressure on Cockerill and Tigers. This re-timing of Cockerill's ban still isn't to Tigers liking and have released this statement-
"We are pleased that the judgement vindicated our decision to appeal and we are grateful to the panel for the consideration that they showed, although we await with interest the written judgement to see why the pre-season game against Montpellier falls into a different category than those against Jersey and Ulster.
"We remain disappointed with the RFU's conduct in this matter but, as we have previously stated, this is a matter we shall pursue privately.
"The focus now is on the remainder of our pre-season and our preparations for the start of the new season."
To release a statement stating that you are 'disappointed' with the RFU's conduct is not only showing a lack of respect for the RFU but also condoning Cockerill's behaviour. It would of been more appropriate if they had stipulated they were disappointed with Cockerill's conduct, not the governing body who are still trying to install respect in rugby!
I have raised the point before in regards to keeping respect going in rugby http://bathbytes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/referees-respect-at-all-times-or-lot-to.html the game it's self is growing ever popular and more and more children are taking up rugby, is Cockerill's behaviour and Tigers open disregard of the RFU what we want the future players to believe is now acceptable? Do we also want the rest of the rugbying world to look at Cockerill and Tigers and believe this is the way English rugby is going?
To support your director of rugby is a very admirable and appropriate thing for any club to do, but to publicly hit out at the RFU for actually easing Tigers pain by moving the suspension to include non-competitive fixtures shows very poor form. Although I truly now believe the scrutiny that will now be heaped upon Tigers and Cockerill will be very intense, from the RFU, fans and media will all be paying a very close attention but will it make any difference?