Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WONEWS to 80360, or email
Otley forward's ban cut by nine weeks
Otley second row Simon Willet has had nine weeks lopped off his suspension and will be available from the start of September.
The 6ft 5in lock was originally banned for 23 weeks at an RFU disciplinary hearing last month for “making contact with the eye or eye area of an opponent during the SSE National League Two North match against Luctonians on March 23.”
That would have ruled the Scot out from April 18 to May 31 and again from August 17 to December 13.
But Willet appealed against the decision of the first panel and was granted a second hearing this week at the Stoke on Trent Holiday Inn Hotel in front of Ian Unsworth QC, Adrian Senn and John Loughton Willet was again found guilty but his suspension will now only run from April 18 to April 27 and from June 4 to August 31.
This means he will be free to play again on September 1, the suspension period taking into account the fact that Willet, who played rugby in New Zealand before in the summer, has an offer to play club rugby there during the English close season.
Otley's director of rugby Tom Rock said: “Simon is adamant that he did not commit the offence, so it is both good news and bad news, but it is good that the offence has been downgraded from intent to recklessness. No-one wants to be accused of gouging.”
Rock, whose try with the last play of the season at Hull Ionians helped Otley to stay in National League Two North, has already spoken to his squad about next season.
He said: “Everyone was in a buoyant mood as it was the week after our last game of the season, but I don’t see our squad for next season being much different to the season just gone, with the exception or one or two additions in areas where we need it.
“But I don’t want to give the names of new signings in dribs and drabs. I would rather give a batch of them, and that should start happening over the next week or two.”
Rock is getting married to Joni Swanston on Saturday, August 18, and is currently planning a honeymoon that balances preparing for a new rugby season and celebrating his marriage.
“I did meet her at a rugby tournament so she knows what she is getting herself into,” confessed Rock.
“I will definitely miss August 18 and August 25 but I believe August 18 might be a second-team fixture anyway”