Once again it seems it is Leicester Tigers against the world - the Aviva Premiership champions have lodged an appeal with the Rugby Football Union following director of rugby Richard Cockerill receiving a nine-game ban.
The appeal is against “elements of the sentence”, not the guilty verdict despite Cockerill originally pleading not guilty to the charges of using obscene, inappropriate and unprofessional language and behaviour towards fourth official Stuart Terheege in last season’s Premiership 37-17 final win over Northampton.
During the hearing the Tigers director of rugby was accused of an “insidious and petulant act intended to threaten match officials into altering the way they officiated.”
Cockerill was upset at the lack of punishment following two big, and in his opinion late, tackles from England second row Courtney Lawes.
But the three-man disciplinary panel said in its judgement that: “the game’s core values, namely respect, discipline and sportsmanship, seem to us, to have passed Mr Cockerill by.”
Despite the evidence released in the full written judgment Leicester Tigers will appeal the ban. A date for the appeal has not been set.
In 2009, Cockerill received a four-week ban, after verbally abusing referee Tim Wigglesworth during a match against Newport Gwent Dragons in the LV= Cup.
At best Leicester’s appeal will see Cockerill’s banned reduced but with his prior indiscretions the panel may decide to up hold its original findings.
Cockerill is a passionate and brilliant coach who lives every second of the games from the coaches box. He has been harshly overlooked for the best director of rugby award in past seasons but it is perhaps time he learnt that the feisty, but fair, attitude he displayed as a player is not always appropriate as a manager.
Rugby prides itself on having an unwritten code of conduct and morals which must be protected but we don’t want to lose the big characters in our game, of which Cockerill is undoubtedly one of the biggest.
Although Cockerill will be unable to play a part in match day preparations until November he is currently preparing the squad in pre-season training with the club’s ninth recruit joining up with the squad ahead of the new campaign.
Tigers have bolstered their front row options heading into the 2013/14 season with the signing of 21-year-old loosehead prop Tom Bristow.
Bristow, who made 21 Aviva Premiership appearances for London Welsh last season, is the second front row player Tigers have recruited from the relegated club, with hooker Neil Briggs joining to fight it out for a place in Leicester’s world-class squad.
At 6ft and 17 stones Bristow will add some power to Leicester’s squad.
Cockerill said: “Tom is a young up-and-coming prop and he joins a very good bunch of promising young front rows at the club, including Fraser Balmain, Ryan Bower and Academy prospects Riccardo Brugnara, Tiziano Pasquali and Harry Rudkin.
“This is a good environment for Tom and the other young guys to learn their trade alongside senior props Marcos Ayerza, Boris Stankovich, Logovi’i Mulipola, Dan Cole and Jerome Schuster.”
Bristow’s first game could well come in the club’s opening pre-season game against Montpelier on August 9. They will also face Jersey and Ulster before kicking off the league season against Worcester.
In other news
Leicester have been drawn an intriguing mix of games in the LV= Cup this season.
Tigers, who are drawn in Pool 2 and will play the sides in Pool 3, will open their campaign against Wales’ strongest region the Ospreys on November 8 before facing Bath, who could well be led by former Leicester fly half George Ford.
Leicester will also face Worcester Warriors and LV= Cup holders Harlequins away.
Tigers last won the LV= Cup in 2012, beating Northampton Saints in the final at Sixways.
To qualify for the semi-finals, Tigers will have to finish top of Pool 2, above Exeter Chiefs, Sale Sharks and Cardiff Blues.
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