Esher head coach Ollie Smith and assistant Ricky Nebbett have been suspended for verbally abusing a match official.

The pair, pictured right, pleaded guilty to conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game at an RFU disciplinary hearing in London on Wednesday night.

Smith and Nebbett were charged over an altercation with referee Terry Hall in the wake of their side’s narrow 21-20 defeat at Old Albanians on February 9.

Smith received a three-week ban – up to and including March 17 – from coaching on match days,attending Esher matches home and away and making contact with the team, while  Nebbett was handed a 12-week suspension on similar terms – six weeks of which are suspended until May 2014 – allowing him a touchline return on April 15.

“Whatever the mitigating circumstances you cannot have people abusing officials,” said Esher chairman John Inverdale, who confirmed second team coach Chris Kibble would take temporary charge of the team on match days.

“The game was fundamental to our promotion hopes. Emotions were inevitably going to run high.

“What happened was unequivocally not right, but these things will happen for as long as people care about the outcome of sporting events. The incident does not reflect well on the club or  the individuals.

“While I do not condone what happened, I do understand why it happened.”