(Reuters) - England flyhalf Danny Cipriani was charged by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) on Friday for “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game” following his conviction for common assault and resisting arrest.
The charge came after the 30-year-old said in a newspaper article that he “hugely regrets” his role in an incident at a nightclub on Jersey, which left a female police officer bruised and led to his arrest.
The RFU’s decision to charge Cipriani was severely criticised by the player’s club Gloucester with their CEO Stephen Vaughan saying there was “no historic precedent of a player being singled out in this manner.”
Cipriani was arrested on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to common assault and resisting arrest in the Jersey magistrates court on Thursday.
The player was handed a 2,000 pound ($2,544) fine and ordered to pay 250 pounds in compensation to the officer.
On Friday, a statement from the RFU said: “In light of his conviction for common assault and resisting arrest, Danny Cipriani has been charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game contrary to RFU Rule 5.12.
“RFU Head of Discipline David Barnes said: ‘We have high standards that we expect across the game, in line with rugby’s core values, from all those involved within it. I have this afternoon taken the decision to charge Danny Cipriani.’”
The player’s hearing in front of an independent disciplinary panel will take place next week with details of time, place and panel members to be confirmed.
Gloucester later issued a statement, saying they were “surprised and extremely disappointed” to have learned of the disciplinary action.
“Yesterday afternoon I received a personal assurance from the RFU that no disciplinary discussions would take place until we had completed our own conversations as stated in our club release,” Vaughan said in the statement.
“There is no historic precedent of a player being singled out in this manner, and we feel that this disciplinary process has been influenced by the significant media coverage of this week’s events and other external factors and not based on the actual facts of the matter.
“In summary, we do not agree with the RFU’s decision to embark upon a disciplinary process before we have concluded our own internal discussions and fail to understand the reasons for this approach.”
In an interview with The Times, Cipriani had said: “I have massive admiration for the police and the job they do. I hugely regret what happened. I just want to talk to the female police officer and apologise.”
The altercation took place when Cipriani tried to carry drinks into the outdoor area of a bar, where he and his Gloucester team mates were having a barbecue following a pre-season match.
Cipriani said the bouncer did not allow him to take the drinks outside and started recording him with a camera attached to his tie, leading the England player to grab the device.
Police officers were then called to the scene minutes later.
“The police told me they were going to arrest me on the basis of what the bouncer told them and I tried to explain my side of the story,” the former Wasps player added.
“As they tried to put my hands behind my back, I stood my ground for a matter of a few seconds and raised my voice. I hugely regret doing so.”
Cipriani has been warned by England coach Eddie Jones over his conduct following a number of off-field issues, including a training-ground fight with a Wasps team mate and a nightclub incident while playing for Australia’s Melbourne Rebels in 2011.
“What happened on Wednesday has caused much reflection,” said Cipriani. “I am very grateful to the magistrate, who said that the incident was minor. But I am in no doubt that it was completely unacceptable.”
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru and Ian Chadband; editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Christian Radnedge