Points Gained Points Lost

For the first time in BRFU history, an Inquiry board sat down to discuss a dispute matter between 2 local clubs. Royal Brunei Yacht Club (Yachties) lost two points from their total points whilst Royal Brunei Police gained a point for the errors done by Yachties.

Here is how the table looks after the adjustment of points:-

KB Pythons 3 3 0 0 159 29 130 3 15
Bandar Blacks 3 2 0 1 76 40 34 1 9
The Knights 3 2 0 1 42 26 16 1 9
Royal Brunei Yacht Club 3 2 0 1 56 102 -46 1 7
Royal Brunei Police 3 0 0 3 17 102 -85 1 2
Royal Brunei Armed Force 3 0 0 3 15 67 -52 1 1

Here is the full text of the judgement :-

Police vs Yachties

Complaint re:

i) Rolling Subs;

ii) Jersey swaps and

iii) failing to submit Subs form


Judicial Committee Hearing – Wed 23rd April 2008

Office of Ms. Cheok Sankaran Halim, BSB


Match: Royal Brunei Police Force RFC vs Royal Brunei Yacht Club RFC

Date of Match: 19th April 2008

Panel: Roy Prabhakaran (Chairman), Ken Watt and Simon Harris


  1. Johannas Hickey (Police)
  2. Mark Pyrgos & Sukor Ashak (Yachties)
  3. Ben Bourne (Match Commissioner)
  4. Ainol Razman (BRFU Representative)

To Consider: i) Rolling Subs; ii) Jersey swaps and iii) failing to submit Substitutes forms contrary to Rules of Competition and specifically the Substitution Rules that were made available to all teams.

Considering this is the first ever Judicial Committee convened in Brunei Darussalam, the Panel felt that it had to ascertain and deal with a few procedural issues in respect of the convening of the Judicial Committee.

Mr. Ainol Razman requested to sit in on the hearing as an observer on behalf of the BRFU and all parties did not have any objections to this.

The Panel invited Mr Ben Bourne to sit in as he was the Match Commissioner and all parties did not have any objections

Mr. Ainol Razman was asked whether he, on behalf of the BRFU, had authorised for the Judicial Committee to be convened. He confirmed the same.

All parties in attendance were asked whether they had any objections to

i) the jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee and/or

ii) the composition of the Panel.

There were no objections recorded.

Parties were duly informed that the hearing will be heard in private in accordance with IRB’s Regulation 18 Appendix1.

All parties were informed that they had a right to be heard and the Panel thanked them for sending their views and submissions.

The Panel then informed all parties that they had convened as quickly as possible due to the ongoing Competition as the Panel felt that there were some very important technical issues to decide on for obvious reasons.

Factual Matrix

  1. Royal Brunei Police Force RFC (Police) played against Royal Brunei Yacht Club RFC (Yachties) on the 19th April 2008 at the Police home ground.
  2. The Match Commissioner prepared and sent out his report highlighting some possible problems and/or breaches of Competition rules/laws/regulations specifically in respect of i) Rolling Subs; ii) Jersey swaps and iii) failing to submit Substitute forms.
  3. The Police through Mr Johannas Hickey then lodged a complaint through the BRFU forum and was then advised by Mr Ainol Razman, on behalf of the BRFU, to lodge his complaint officially to the Chairman of this Panel. This was because all relevant BRFU committee members felt they were conflicted as they were involved in the said game. Mr. Johannas Hickey duly lodged the same with the Chairman immediately.
  4. The Chairman immediately convened a Judicial Committee to investigate into the complaint.


The issues in respect of the jersey swaps and failure to submit substitute forms as highlighted by the Match Commissioner were duly admitted by the Yachties in their written submissions that were sent to the Panel.

The Panel felt that the main complaint as lodged by the Police was in respect of the breach of the competition rules vis a vis “rolling substitutions”. In order to determine this issue it is imperative that the said rule be looked at carefully. The rule reads as follows:


Rolling substitutions will only be allowed by the three designated front row reserves as we feel safety dictates this decision. So amongst the designated front row reserves on the match team sheet and the starting front row they can roll off and on at any time in the games unlimited. Whereas only 4 of the seven potential reserves left on the bench can only substitute for injury or tactical reasons. In that case most if not all situations will involve a permanent substitution unless covering a blood bin.

All parties agreed that this rule is new to the competition and that it was drafted for the purposes of limiting “rolling substitutions” to designated starting and reserve front row players only. Therefore it is our opinion that due to the very restrictive nature in which this rule has been drafted and the intention behind such drafting, only designated front row players who start a game can be “rolled off” by designated front row reserves and when this is done properly and correctly the team doing so can enjoy the benefits of this rule without fear of adverse repercussions.

Procedurally it is therefore imperative that the team sheet before a game properly highlight the designated starting front row and the designated reserve front row.

What is not allowed or permissible is for a designated front row reserve to come on as a “rolling substitute” for any other player who is not a designated front row player who started the game notwithstanding whatever position he may have been playing at the time the designated front row reserve comes on. In the event this were to occur, this would certainly not be regarded as a “rolling substitution” but quite simply a normal substitution or possibly a blood bin depending on the circumstances. However, there is nothing then to stop him playing in the front row later on in the game, but due to the earlier substitution he would have lost his “right” to be regarded as a “rolling substitute”. Therefore, quite simply for the avoidance of doubt, “rolling substitutions” can only occur between designated front row players and no one else.


Having established that, the Panel, in wanting to narrow down the issues, then posed the following question to Mr Hickey:

“Are we right to assume that your main complaint against the Yachties primarily is that the designated roll on front row players, apart from rolling on and off for front row players, did also roll on and off for other players in other positions apart from just the front row during the course of the game AND that this is despite clear and unequivocal rules with regards to such substitutions that was put in writing to all clubs before this competition started?”

Mr. Hickey agreed to this and said he had nothing else to add.

Mr Mark Pyrgos did not contest this allegation and admitted to various breaches which were also highlighted by the Match Commissioner and also in Mr Hickey’s complaint. Mr. Mark Pyrgos and Mr Sukor Ashak put the fault down to the Yachties being badly prepared by not appointing their own substitute official before the game and correctly admitted to it being a mistake on their part.

Mitigating Circumstances

On behalf of the Yachties Mr Mark Pyrgos mitigated by stating that

  1. there was no mens rea on the part of the Yachties but merely an oversight
  2. this is a new rule that they were getting to grips with
  3. they admit their shortfalls and apologise
  4. they did not mean to flout the rules and respected and supported the rules as laid down by the BRFU
  5. they undertake to “reinforce substitution procedures” within their own club.

Due to their admission at first instance, we further considered this to be a mitigating factor. Kindly note that we have considered all other relevant mitigating factors although they may not have been stated above.

Panel’s Considerations and Sanctions

Be that as it may, we also know for a fact that the Yachties had some very senior rugby playing members and committee members on the side line that afternoon. We further feel it necessary to comment that the Yachties absolute and total failure to ensure that their substitution procedures were in place properly before the game is not a good enough excuse especially considering the fact that many of it’s players and members present that day hold high office with the BRFU. With the wealth of experience within the club, we feel that they should be the standard bearers for other budding clubs to look up to. The Panel therefore felt that a sanction was necessary.

We are obliged to Mr Mark Pyrgos for providing us some precedents for our consideration. The Panel in considering what penalty to impose did initially consider the harsh penalty of reversing the match result. But after further consideration the Panel decided that to be too harsh considering all the circumstances, especially the fact that the rule is very new to all parties and the need to encourage the development of the game in Brunei Darussalam.

The Panel therefore has decided to impose the following penalties for ALL the misdemeanours:

  1. Deduction of two (2) points from the Yachties thus giving them three (3) points only for this match effective immediately. In doing so we did consider, further to the matters dealt with above, the fact that the “rolling substitution” offence did gain the Yachties an unfair advantage which may be prejudicial to the interests of the game in Brunei and especially to this ongoing competition.
  2. Awarding one (1) point to the Police thus giving them two (2) points for this match effective immediately. We considered, further to the matters dealt with above, the fact that the Police did make a comeback in the 2nd half of the game which could have gone their way had it not been for what happened.
  3. A serious reprimand to the Yachties to get their house in order and a caution that a failure to do so will attract a more severe sanction.

In conclusion, the Panel are of the opinion breaching of competition rules is a serious matter which requires adequate punishment imposed on the offending party. However, being the first time this rule has been used and the fact that competitive rugby is at it’s infancy in Brunei Darussalam, we have decided to be more lenient on the offending party this time.

We would like to convey our thanks to all parties concerned for their invaluable assistance in this matter.

Dated 24th April 2008

Roy Prabhakaran



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