Cipriani disciplinary hearing sparks row between RFU and Gloucester

Danny Cipriani must appear before an independent disciplinary hearing next week as the fallout from his nightclub scuffle developed into a row between Gloucester and Twickenham.

Cipriani has been charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game by the Rugby Football Union and could face a fine and/or ban if the complaint lodged is upheld.

The England fly-half was fined £2,000 by Jersey Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to charges of common assault and resisting arrest following an incident that took place on Gloucester’s pre-season tour to Jersey.

He was also ordered to pay £250 compensation for the bruised neck suffered by a policewoman during the confrontation at the Royal Yacht Hotel in St Helier in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

It was initially suggested that Cipriani would escape censure from Twickenham with Eddie Jones making a call on his England future in the coming weeks, only for head of discipline David Barnes to issue the charge on the basis of his convictions.

The unexpected development has infuriated Gloucester, who claim the RFU has acted only in response to the publicity generated by the story.

“We are surprised and extremely disappointed,” chief executive Stephen Vaughan said.

“Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon I received a personal assurance from the RFU that no disciplinary discussions would take place until we had completed our own conversations.

“There is no historic precedent of a player being singled out in this manner and we feel that this disciplinary process has been influenced by the significant media coverage of this week’s events and other external factors.

“We do not believe that this decision and the subsequent unnecessary public attention that will now follow it is in the best interests of either the RFU, the club, the player nor the game in general.”

However,  Press Association Sport understands that the RFU disputes Vaughan’s claim that any assurance was given to Gloucester over the timing of its own inquiry.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Eddie Jones must make a decision on Danny Cipriani’s England future, Adam Davy/PA</figcaption>
Eddie Jones must make a decision on Danny Cipriani’s England future, Adam Davy/PA

The renewal of club v country hostilities came just hours after Cipriani had been omitted from the squad for Gloucester’s pre-season friendly against Ulster.

He was left out of the 31-man party chosen for the trip to Kingspan Stadium to enable him to negotiate the aftermath of the latest disciplinary lapse to have propelled him into the headlines

As the club’s marquee signing for the new Gallagher Premiership campaign, he had been expected to be involved in the first of only two pre-season friendlies arranged before the league opener against Northampton on September 1.

‘So you’re telling me there’s a chance’ Lloyd Christmas 💡

A post shared by Daniel Cipriani (@dannycipriani87) on

It is understood that the 30-year-old playmaker has travelled to Belfast with his team-mates but, in the wake of the Jersey incident, will now be confined to a watching brief and will instead be given his debut against the Dragons at Kingsholm on Thursday.

An England career that produced its first start in a decade against South Africa in June remains shrouded in doubt with Jones to make a call on his future in the coming weeks as the autumn series at Twickenham looms.

Sir Clive Woodward, England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach and a long-term admirer of Cipriani’s, has called for Cipriani to be discarded by Jones.

- Press Association

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