Rugby Football Union officials are considering doubling the penalties for some of the most violent excesses committed on the field of play.
Under proposals being considered by the RFU and the International Rugby Board (IRB), offences such as biting and punching could incur a one-year ban in place of the six-month maximum penalty that has existed for the last few seasons.
The stiffer punishments came into effect for the international and European matches on January 1 this year and will be rolled out into the English game from September 1.
But Damian Hopley, chief executive of the Professional Rugby Players' Association, fears the new measures could prove counter-productive, saying: "We've grave concerns we're seeing a sledgehammer to crack a nut."
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) met with Hopley and club representatives on Tuesday to discuss the regulations and will hold a media briefing next week.
Hopley is strongly opposed to on-field violence but said that the new regulations could lead to difficult situations.
He said: "We are very supportive of the fact that there is no room for violent behaviour on the field but I'm not convinced as to how these new regulations will be enforced.
"I'm sure that lawyers up and down the country will be very excited to see such swingeing disciplinary sanctions introduced.
"I think it is a very clear message that there is no room for violence and thuggery on the field and I think that's a very positive statement. But I'm not quite sure that there was an epidemic (of violence) going on beforehand. We applaud the motivation behind this but, in terms of the reality of what's actually going to be delivered, we'll wait to see."
As an example of how the new regulations would affect the game, after last year's Premiership Final Leicester's Neil Back was handed a fourweek ban for punching Wasps flanker Joe Worsley. Under the new system he would be banned for anywhere between three and 12 months.
More locally under the new regulations Colin Noon, the player who was involved in the incident which left Pertemps Bees prop Matt Long needing stitches in his forehead, could be in the middle of a year-long ban. n England World Cup-winner Trevor Woodman has retired from rugby because of injury.
The prop suffered an injury to his lower back while training with Sale Sharks last September and has been forced to concede defeat in the battle to regain full fitness.
Woodman, who played for Gloucester before joining Sale, won 22 caps - the highlight being England's 2003 World Cup final victory over Australia. The 29-yearold made his England debut against the USA in 1999, and his final Test match appearance was against New Zealand in June 2004.