The change was implemented from 1 January for English rugby

Players and coaches who abuse referees in England will face longer bans after findings from research carried out by the Rugby Football Union.

A survey found 49% of officials has received abuse in the 2022/23 season.

The longer suspensions came into affect on 1 January and it applies to all levels of the game in England. Sanctions will now have a minimum of an added two, three or fours weeks depending on the seriousness of the incident.

Other sanctions, such as fines, letters of apology and refereeing courses, will still be available to disciplinary panels.

This also comes after two high profile officials stepped away from their jobs because of abuse. Tom Foley said online abuse sent to him during the Rugby World Cup made him retire from the international game. Wayne Barnes also said abuse was a factor in him hanging up his whistle.

Foley said upon retiring from international rugby: “Having reached the pinnacle in officiating at the Rugby World Cup Final, now feels the right time to take a break from the international game,” said Foley. “Over the course of 13 years, I have been fortunate to officiate alongside many dedicated professionals and be involved in some of the greatest games in international rugby.

“However, the pressure and scrutiny I came under after the Rugby World Cup final, along with a torrent of criticism and abuse online, has helped to reaffirm that this is the right decision for me at this point in my life.  While it’s a privilege to be at the heart of some of the sport’s most iconic moments, the increasing levels of vitriol, when the demands and expectation are so high, have led me to this moment.

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