Referee’s bare-faced cheek


They may play their rugby at Two Mile Bottom, but that was no reason for Thetford's women's team to get the bum end of a deal from match referee Robert Tustin.

With only minutes to go in a match at Peterborough last month, both sets of players were astounded when Tustin dropped his shorts and bared half his bottom.

Astonishment then turned to post-match anger and it wasn't long before complaints by both teams were fired in to the English RFU, who got to the bottom of the story at a disciplinary hearing in Coventry this week.

And now the mooner has been banned by Moon after a disciplinary panel - chaired by Richard Moon - suspended him for 18 weeks.

Thetford skipper Amanda Walker admitted she was staggered at Tustin's behaviour.

"I have never seen anything like it and I never want to see anything like it again," she said. "I have no idea why he did it."

The incident happened at the back end of the match at Fengate in Peterborough on October 28, where the hosts had just completed their scoring in a 44-5 victory.

"It was probably about five minutes from the end of the game and Peterborough had scored a try," said Walker.

"We went back for the re-start and as we were repositioning, I saw him walk along the halfway mark to the edge of the pitch where the stand was.

"He took his boots off and then turned and walked back on the ground. I saw the Peterborough team looking at him wondering what was going on. Then he just pulled his shorts down over his behind and then flashed halfway towards the stand and the Peterborough team.

"He didn't say anything except 'don't stand on my toes' and then carried on for the last five minutes. It was quite unbelievable."

The following day, a Monday, Walker attended a Thetford committee meeting and raised the matter: needless to say, it didn't go down well.

"The committee were absolutely incensed," she said. "It went to county level and they were equally astounded, and it ended up at national level."

There were signs during the South Eastern Three game that something was amiss.

"He didn't check studs, he didn't brief the front line or the scrum-halves and the quality of his refereeing was sub-standard," said Walker.

"The same as any other local community side, you do get some refs who are better than others, but generally speaking they are professional. I have played rugby for five years and been involved and watched it a lot longer and never in that time have I seen anything like that."

Tustin admitted a charge of conduct prejudicial to the interest of the Union and Game contrary to regulation 5.12 of the Rules of the Rugby Football Union. He was suspended from officiating in all rugby, including acting as a touch judge, until March 3 next year.

He has already been suspended from officiating by the East Midlands Rugby Union Referees Society since October 29. He was also ordered to pay £100 costs.
I wonder which bottom, front or back?
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