It’s the fourth quarter. You’ve done the near-unheard-of and posted up a #50Burgers in a Regional Final. There’s no way the other team are catching up and you’ve just upset the pundits once again, this time in oh-so-convincing fashion.
There’s a Double Coverage reporter on the sidelines for the game, and even though DC in general can be dicks, she’s been your Conference Correspondent this year and backed your team throughout the season, even when everyone else doubted. Why not take a quick sideline picture with your mates? What’s the worst that can happen?
We’ve shared dozens of pics like it this Uniball season, but none perhaps with such potential consequence.
Being one of the last releases of the usual game day torrent of posts out of DC, the pic got noticed by a good number of the the Jets’ players themselves… but also some others with familiarity of the Jets programme.
Within a couple of hours of the picture being shared, a number of individuals contacted DC with queries about the picture – particularly the inclusion of Jets #28, Georgi Rusev.
Per the BAFRA Newsflash, 17 March 2017, Rusev was ejected in the Jets’ semi-finals fixture against the Edinburgh Napier Knights, due to making abusive comments. This ejection resulted in a suspension for the Jets’ next game… vs the Leeds Gryphons.
Concerned, DC’s Correspondent contacted the Jets to query Rusev’s participation.
Coventry’s president clarified Rusev had indeed taken part, but that ‘Coaches spoke with the refs about it’ before the game, and that the Jets ‘…haven’t received any official paper saying he wasn’t eligible to play this week’.
However, per BAFRA rules, 2017, the only way Rusev would have been eligible to play were had the Jets appealed his suspension in writing, ostensibly within three days of their Edinburgh fixture (BAFRA Regs 8.2) – which to the best of DC’s knowledge did not occur – especially as notification of Rusev’s suspension was not released until 17 March, by when the appeals deadline will have passed, and so any appeal would have been noted therein.
Of course, this could all be an administrative mix up that BUCS will clarify and the Jets can get back to celebrating their impressive victory.
The alternative? If sanctions taken against the Durham Saints this season are anything to go by, following their rules breach through their first five games of this season, similarly fielding an ineligible player, each fixture in question was awarded to their opponents.
Could the Leeds Gryphons just have been handed the Division Two Northern title off the back of a sideline snap of three celebrating team mates?!
DC contacted BAFA Director of Competitions, Russ Hewitt, who said he had been made aware of the situation, though further investigation would be required, ahead of BUCS making any rulings that might be necessary.
Update: 1730 20/03/17
The Coventry Jets committee have shared a number of points they believe are of important to the situation – we’d like to thank the Jets for reaching out to us to discuss the issue further and hopefully shed further light on the situation:
Per Coventry Coaching staff, via Jets’ committee:
“1. In Edinburgh last week Georgi [Rusev] was ejected for 2 unsportsmanlike conduct offences.
2. At the time [Coventry Head Coach, Adam] Biggs asked what the first offence was and no record could be provided by the refs, and we were told to wait and the decision could be appealed (with 3 seconds on the clock it wasn’t worth an argument there).
3. The first offence was also not seen on film of the game.
4. Tuesday came and still no official notice from BAFRA of the ejection
5. Thursday BAFRA Newsflash released stating the ejection.
6. White hat BAFRA official on the day not notified of the ineligible player, he only knew of it via news flash. He then attempts to contact BAFRA for clarification pregame.
In short, ejection was dubious, BAFRA didn’t follow correct procedure for an ejection preventing CU Jets staff from being able to make appeal on behalf of the player. White hat decision following no clarification from BAFRA was that he was eligible due to correct process not being followed by BAFRA, head coaches from both teams informed prior to kick off.”
Certainly this explanation appears to throw a lot of grey into an issue that many were already writing off as black and white. It should be noted that we’ll likely not even be aware if BUCS have chosen to proceed with an investigation and/or enact sanctions until said investigation is concluded and determinations revealed, per BUCS confidentiality policy.
Core questions here may be whether BAFRA’s members on the scene corroborate the Jets’ account of events, and whether it’s determined if the White Cap covering the fixture possessed the authority to declare a players eligible/a suspension void. Certainly it could be a tense few days for the Jets as they await further clarification regarding the issues.
DC would once again like to thank the Jets for getting in touch with further information and helping keep the #BritballNation informed.