THE president of one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious rugby clubs has been banned for four months for invading the pitch and launching a verbal attack on a match official.
Paul Di Rollo lost the plot when the final whistle sounded in the National League clash between his team, Watsonians, and Edinburgh rivals Stewart’s-Melville.
And disciplinary chiefs at Murrayfield found him guilty of a string of misconduct offences.
After the match Di Rollo ran onto the pitch and harassed referee Gary Gordon. He was also found guilty of abusing and intimidating one of the assistant referees by shoving him.
The Scottish Rugby Union said his actions breached their strict code of conduct by treating the referee and his assistants in a manner which showed a lack of respect for their authority.
Hosts Stewart’s-Melville won a tight contest 14-13 at Inverleith earlier this month.
Di Rollo – father of former Scotland centre Marcus – was barred by the disciplinary panel from attending any Watsonians matches for four months.
They stipulated he must not enter any venue where they are playing from two hours before kick off until two hours after the end of the game.
SRU regulations chief Graham Ireland said: “Abuse of match officials has no part in our game.
“We advised clubs at our most recent AGM and earlier this season, in the strongest possible terms, that such abuse will not be tolerated.
“The panel’s finding should act as a salutary reminder to all in the game of our seriousness in eradicating such behaviour.”
Di Rollo, whose son Marcus is a friend and former schoolmate of Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy, last night declared: “I will definitely be lodging an appeal because this whole thing has been a huge misunderstanding.
“In no way did I threaten anyone.
“I had already shaken hands with the referee and his assistants – and then went back to them a minute or two later.
“I told them I was disappointed at the number of penalties my team had given away and I requested some guidance on what they had been doing wrong.
“One of our guys had been red-carded, but I had no issue with them over that decision – I purely wanted to know about the penalties.
“It was a case of seeking some clarification.”
Di Rollo went on: “At the hearing, Gary Gordon told the panel that at no stage did he hear me swearing or raising my voice.
“All he said was that I had spoken to them in a tense tone and that is why they felt intimidated.”
Di Rollo must lodge his appeal within seven days.
The Watsonians club were originally set up by the former pupils of one of Scotland’s leading fee-paying schools, George Watson’s College.
Famous former players include the Hastings brothers Gavin and Scott
Other well known ex-Watsons pupils include actor Gordon Kennedy, former Tory cabinet minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Liberal leader Sir David Steel and TV chef Sue Lawrence.
The club, which was formed in 1875, is connected with George Watson’s College.
It has not enjoyed the best of fortunes of late having been relegated to the RBS National Leagues.