Press release from the RFU... Following the recent decision of the Premier Rugby Ltd (PRL) designated panel into the non-fulfilment of the fixture due to take place on 27 November 2009 between Sale Sharks and London Wasps, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) committed to issuing a clarification to remove any ambiguity for referees. Since that time the RFU has been working closely with PRL to address this issue and the RFU can confirm it has today issued that clarification to the whole game. The clarification has been sent to the Guinness Premiership and all levels below that. The details of that clarification are laid out in full below and include a firm restatement of the prominence of the International Rugby Board Laws of the Game over any individual tournament or league regulations. Peter Baines, Chairman of the RFU Governance Committee, commented, "It was vital that we did not have a referee caught again in a similar position to David Rose and we believe this clarification will ensure that is the case. At all times, the IRB Laws of the Game must take precedence over any other regulations and referees, such as David, must feel able to enforce them without fear of recrimination. In this situation, in the end, it was the view of Governance that there was not direct conflict between the Laws and the Guinness Premiership Regulations but that the panel ruled on a legal technicality only. However, it is important to note that we have stressed that a referee cannot force a team to play and the final decision on whether to play must be taken by the team itself." The Clarification sent to the Game Under the IRB Laws of the Game, if either team has objections about the ground they must tell the referee before the match starts. The referee must not start the match if he believes that the pitch is unfit to play and therefore potentially dangerous. The referee can also stop a match once it has started if he subsequently decides that it is unfit to play. If both teams believe the ground to be unsafe then the referee must not start the match. If one team believes the ground is safe and the other disagrees, the referee will attempt to resolve the issues between the two teams. If these issues cannot be resolved the referee shall give his opinion as to whether the ground is fit to play or not. However, for the avoidance of doubt, a referee cannot force a team to play. The decision as to whether to play or not must be taken by the team itself. The Guinness Premiership Regulations for season 2009/2010 do not in fact conflict with this position. Regulation 4.4(j) does not state (nor should it state) that a referee can force a team to play if that team does not believe the pitch is fit to play. However in such circumstances, the team which refused to play may be subject to investigation for potentially failing to fulfil the fixture.