EPCR highlights Armitage’s record


Published: Monday 22nd December 2014 by The News Editor

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England international Delon Armitage has been described as “an habitual offender” with “an appalling disciplinary record” in the written judgement of his latest appearance before rugby union disciplinary chiefs.

The Toulon full-back faced a misconduct complaint brought by European Professional Club Rugby following his team’s European Champions Cup defeat against Leicester at Welford Road earlier this month.

A complaint regarding an on-pitch incident was dismissed by an independent disciplinary panel, but he was found guilty of misconduct following a post-match episode with fans at the ground, and banned for 12 weeks.

In its judgement, released on Monday, the committee said: “We considered the player’s previous record and concluded that he is an habitual offender against the laws of the game, and one for whom there needs to be a deterrent to combat a clear pattern of offending, both on and off the field.

“The player is without doubt an exceptionally talented individual, but he has an appalling disciplinary record, both on and off the field.”

After the match, which was won 25-21 by Leicester, Armitage made a number of comments within earshot of spectators – including children – using foul and abusive language.

The hearing was told that Armitage had been making his way from the Toulon team bus to the Legends Lounge at Welford Road for a post-match meal when he was greeted by autograph hunters, including the 11-year-old son of Stephen Hampson.

“The player signed Master Hampson’s programme, though he declined to be photographed with him,” said the judgement.

“As the player left the pitch level walkway and started to go up the steps to the Legends Lounge entrance, there was an interaction with a group of Tigers fans.

“The player admitted in his evidence that he had sworn at them and had used the words ‘f*** off’ twice and raised his hand/arm in a dismissive wave away, which he had not intended to be threatening.

“Mr Hampson told the committee that the player seemed very agitated and was shouting in an intimidating and threatening manner and used the words “f*** off, I’ll f****** come down there and sort you out. F*** off – come on then, come on then f*** off.’

“Mr Hampson described the scene in front of the Met RX stand as fairly typical after a match, with approximately 12 children in the age range eight to 14 years in the immediate area, as well as another mixed group of Tigers fans, 12 to 14 in number, standing around the central gate waiting to meet players who would come across the pitch.

“After the incident had ended, Mr Hampson described himself as being completely aghast at what he had just witnessed, and did not speak to any other adults around him as he just wanted to concentrate on reassuring his son that the incident was over and that there was nothing to worry about.

“His son had seemed shocked and confused by what he had just witnessed and said to his father ‘Tigers players are always very friendly and happy to chat.'”

Mr Hampson made a formal complaint to Leicester Tigers the following day.

In his defence during the hearing, Armitage said that he was “frequently the subject of banter and abuse.”

The judgement continued: “When questioned by the committee about why he reacted to people who had been drinking, he said it was light banter. He accepted that he had told them to “f*** off” twice.

“He said he did not use the words aggressively, though they were goading him. He accepted that it was not appropriate to use that language.

“We were not impressed by the player when he gave evidence and was questioned. He presented himself as the victim and sought to justify what he had done and said.

“Wherever there were inconsistencies between his account and that of Mr Hampson, we had no hesitation in preferring the evidence of Mr Hampson.”

Armitage was banned for eight weeks in 2011 after a misconduct complaint was upheld in terms of using threatening and/or abusive language towards an anti-doping official, while he has been suspended on three separate occasions for incidents of foul play on the pitch.

The on-pitch misconduct complaint that was dismissed arose from spectators complaining about Armitage’s conduct during the match, but the committee found inconsistencies in terms of evidence provided by witnesses.

The judgement continued: “Some of those allegations made by spectators at the match were that during the first-half when the RC Toulon players were standing behind the posts as a Leicester penalty kick was being taken, the player said to, or within earshot of spectators at the match, including a number of children, ‘in-bred c****’.

“On the balance of probabilities, we could not be satisfied that the phrase attributed to the player was used by him at the time alleged and in the particular incident. We therefore do not uphold the misconduct complaint.”

Published: Monday 22nd December 2014 by The News Editor

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