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Image of the Game Report

The summer of 2009 saw two high profile disciplinary cases involving English clubs, Bath and Harlequins, which generated significant and adverse media coverage for the game. Following the conclusion of the Harlequins disciplinary case, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) Management Board established an Image of the Game Task Group on 28 August 2009, comprising senior individuals in the game.

The primary purpose of the Task Group was to review the impact of the above disciplinary cases on the standing, reputation and image of the game and to make recommendations for action to restore this image. The Task Group was also mandated to review inappropriate behaviours; more broadly all areas of alleged ‘cheating’ or ‘gamesmanship’ and make appropriate recommendations to the RFU, International Rugby Board (IRB) and fellow Unions.

The Task Group is not a disciplinary panel and was not charged with investigating any particular allegations. It was also recognised that many of the issues being considered could have a global dimension and, therefore, the involvement of the IRB and other Unions was essential to take matters forward. While action could be taken by the RFU in England, this would have limited effect if it was not followed up and supported by the IRB and other Unions.

The Image of the Game Task Group document (PDF 256kB) contains further information on the formation of the task group, its remit, methods and terms of reference.

Task Group Objectives

The initial focus for the Task Group’s work was to assess whether inappropriate behaviours by players, coaches, medics and others to gain an unfair competitive advantage was widespread in the game.

The most important priority, particularly given media allegations, was to assess the extent of these inappropriate behaviours in the game, and to do so in a robust manner to ensure that the Group was making recommendations based on sound data.

To achieve this objective the Task Group decided to assemble information from the game on a wide basis. Three on-line questionnaires were produced to enable individuals to supply information, views and evidence in a confidential and user friendly way.

The results of these surveys are available for download. They are split into the professional player survey report (PDF 1.4MB), the professional coaches, medics and physiotherapists report (PDF 2MB) and the community rugby online survey report (PDF 3.2MB).


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