Top 14

Tian ban 'severe', but rugby demands more respect than football - Barkley

Oyonnax full-back Silvere Tian's 14-month ban for using "threatening words or actions against a match official" seems severe to former England international Olly Barkley, but he backs the hard line on respecting officials in rugby.

Tian was shown a red card for dissent by referee Roman Poite in Oyonnax's 27-20 defeat to Grenoble in the Top 14 on April 2 and had to be held back from chasing the official down the tunnel following the final whistle, with the French National Rugby League subsequently suspending him until June 2017.

Conversely, Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy is facing a two-game ban having been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association after he allegedly swore at referee Jon Moss when sent off in the 2-2 draw with West Ham in the Premier League on April 17.

Barkley, who had spells at Racing 92 and Grenoble in the Top 14 between 2012 and 2014, acknowledged Tian's sanction sounds harsh in comparison, but is proud of the level of discipline rugby demands for officials when compared to sports such as football.

He told Omnisport: "I think it's one of the good parts of our games and it's one thing that's terrible about football. The laws and discipline demand that you respect the referee, which I think is a really good thing. When referees aren't respected it's a bad example for kids and it's one thing we get right in rugby.

"However, I do think 14 months sounds a bit severe when you look at Dylan Hartley's incident [a 26-week ban for eye gouging] and Neil Back's [a six-month ban for pushing a referee] as well.

"I think it sounds excessive but it's the sort of thing that needs to be disciplined and no one would really argue with that. It's one thing that's big in rugby and respect is a word that gets used quite often.

"[In football] it's normal if teams get awarded penalties then the referee gets absolutely abused at point-blank range. 

"I think a one-game ban is about right in football standards, but it's not what rugby's about and I quite like that. We've got a level of respect around the game and people appreciate it."

Barkley hopes such a stance on indiscipline will help encourage young people to get into refereeing and raise the quality of officiating within the sport.

"The standard of refereeing is generally not great, so one thing you don't want to do is deter young people from looking to get into refereeing," he continued.

"You could argue that if they do see stuff like that it could put them off and that's something we don't want. They have a huge influence on the game and the better educated and more referees that want to come through the system the better it is for the game.

"You especially don't want people to worry they're going to get shouted at or chased down the tunnel."