Updated: Friday, 22nd May 2020 @ 2:15pm

Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond handed 18 week ban after referee comments

Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond handed 18 week ban after referee comments

By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent

Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond has been handed an 18 week ban by the RFU after pleading guilty to verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes and his assistants last month.

The comments were made after Sharks lost narrowly 21-19 to London Irish. Diamond will now miss the majority of the standard season but will be back in time for the play offs, should Sharks make it.

Chief executive Diamond has also been handed a £4,000 fine for the remarks after raising concerns about Barnes’ performance in the game.

He has been charged under Rule 5.12 which covers "conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union and/or the game.

At the time he said: "I'm concerned about the referee being absolutely right about the penalty at the scrum."

"It is hard to take when such a crucial decision is made like that. He has to be 100% right that we wheeled the scrum. He ought to come to a coaching session and see that the wheel went out of the game 10 years ago."

The ban is extensive, with Diamond forbidden from entering the technical and playing areas and from entering discussion with match officials before, during and after games. The ban runs out on June 20.

This is not the first time Diamond has been in trouble with the RFU – in November he was given a 12 week suspended ban and a £5,000 fine for similar post match comments against Northampton Saints.

In a statement, the RFU said: "Referees strive to do the best they can in a highly pressurised environment. Wayne Barnes is acknowledged as one of the best referees in the game. Referees are entitled to respect at all times, whether the final whistle has been blown or not."

Diamond was ordered to undertake media training following the Northampton incident – his punishment was suspended to next year along with 80% of the fine received.

Sharks currently lie in 6th place in the Aviva Premiership and travel to Northampton on Saturday afternoon.

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