Bath and England winger Anthony Watson has been suspended for one-week following his criticism on a match official in his social media account.
The 27-year-old expressed his displeasure on referee Ian Tempest's decision to send-off his teammate Mike Williams in Bath’s clash against Wasps last month for a dangerous tackle on Jimmy Gopperth which saw him suspended for four weeks.
“Here we go again. Where is he supposed to wrap?! Obsurd [sic] decision," read the tweet from Watson.
Watson's one-week ban is suspended until the end of the 2022-23 season also been instructed to deliver a presentation to his Bath teammates and academy players on the use of social media.
“It is no secret that the number of referees taking up the whistle again after such a prolonged lay-off, is causing concern,” read a statement from the disciplinary panel.
“A situation exacerbated by many of our members leaving the game having become disillusioned with, among other things, persistent challenging of their decisions and unfortunately, some serious incidences of match official abuse.
"Worse still, enticing new referees, especially young match officials, into the game becomes that more challenging.
“The refereeing community is a relatively tight-knit one and incidents of abuse and disrespect for the role soon permeate amongst officials, undermining their confidence and commitment.
"Furthermore, we cannot stress the impact that poor behaviour towards match officials, be it challenging decisions, appealing, disrespect or abuse, within the professional end of our game has on the wider game.”
Watson, who is already sidelined with a long-term knee injury expressed his apology during the hearing and insisted that he had deleted the tweet on 9th November. He also added that he will apologise directly to referee Tempest.
“I would like to record my remorse for my actions, it was never my intention to bring the game into disrepute and my ignorance surrounding the matter is not acceptable,” Watson wrote in a statement. “My actions cannot be explained simply by shifting the blame or placing extreme emphasis on my circumstances, I understand I must be accountable for my actions.
“However, contextually I believe it’s important to understand how difficult the past month or so has been for me. A week prior to this game I suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury, which alone is not the easiest thing to deal with.
"However, when coupled with the fact that a mere two years ago I spent 13 months on the sideline watching my team and rehabilitating a double ruptured achilles – [that] can explain some level of the frustration I am feeling.”
Bath are languishing at the bottom of the Gallagher Premiership table after losing all their seven matches and will face Exeter Chiefs next on 27th November.