A spectator who tripped an under 16s rugby player in full flight during a cup final match - apparently to spare his son’s Watford team from an even bigger thrashing - is under investigation by the county rugby body.

Pictures of the "deplorable" incident show a man at the sidelines of the Fullerians verses Royston U-16 game apparently sticking his leg out to trip the Royston player.

It is understood the man is a parent of one of the Fullerian squad, who were losing 64-5 in the Herts shield final.

Hertfordshire Rugby Football Union has now launched an investigation into the incident - but also into the individual who posted the photo on social media.

Tim Bonnett, chairman of community rugby, said: "An investigation is in place about the actual incident and also about the photo, which showed children and adults and was posted on social media.

"We are not making any other comment at this time as we do not want to prejudice the investigation.

"Hertfordshire Rugby is treating the matter very seriously."

The match on Sunday was ended prematurely with ten minutes to go.

Today Fullerians U-16 team manager Gary Dollard refused to name the tripper, saying it would be "unfair and unreasonable" to do so.

However an internal club investigation was started immediately.

Fullerians held a disciplinary hearing this week and the man has subsequently been banned for six games and told to attend a safe-guarding course.

Club chairman Kevin Brind said: "He is very remorseful and apologised to everyone."

Fullerians’ president Mike Musk said the action was "out of character" for the parent involved.

He said: "I wasn’t there, but I’ve seen the photo. We have had a committee meeting since and will have further meetings.

"It was certainly deplorable and the only mitigation I can give is that it would seem that it was out of character for this person.

"We have taken action and as far as I am aware, he has been banned from the touchline at matches until next December or January."

Royston Rugby Club president Jamie Johnson said  the incident was "extraordinary" and he had never heard of anything like it happening during a game of youth rugby.