Photo: RFU archive
The Rugby Football Union today made 16 recommendations to eliminate cheating from the sport.
The Image of the Game Task Group has put forward measures it believes will help restore the reputation of the game.
After four weeks of investigation, including a survey of professional players and 4,500 responses from grassroots rugby, RFU President and Task Group Chairman John Owen said: "The aspiration of the Task Group was to eliminate cheating in all its forms across the game. This is vital if we are to rebuild the image of the game.
"The extent of the information gathered and the positive response to the surveys shows how much people care about rugby and thanks should go to the Professional Rugby Players Association and Premier Rugby Ltd for their support and contribution.
"As a task group we were determined to act decisively for the good of the sport and we believe that the recommendations, born out of findings and opinions from across all levels of the game, will enable us to do that.
"These are well thought out measures which as a union we will implement within set timelines. The support and involvement of the International Rugby Board and our fellow unions is also important if we are to ensure all the issues are addressed on a global basis."
The following link provides the complete Image of the Game Task Group report.
The Task Group’s 16 recommendations are as follows:
- Gamesmanship, foul play and cheating
Include a definition of cheating in the Rules of the RFU and create a specific regulation covering this issue with severe sanctions associated
- Fabricated blood injuries
IRB to establish guidelines on extent of blood required to necessitate substitution occurring and the role of the 4th official in confirming them. Continue and extend PRL voluntary code whereby opposition doctors have a right to examine alleged blood injuries. Increased recording and registering of blood substitutions at Union and IRB level
Recommend the IRB amend current regulations to allow temporary removal of players with possible concussion from the playing area and enable replacement for 15 minutes. This requires further analysis and consultation
- Feigned injuries
Monitor the impact of changes to Law 3 and uncontested scrums on the Guinness Premiership and European games. Recommend the IRB monitors the prevalence of uncontested scrums at the international level
- Medical intervention and local anaesthetics
RFU to recommend to IRB that they change regulation 10.2 to allow the use of local anaesthetics on match day for specific injuries and subject to informed consent. Until that time all English clubs and teams to adhere to the current regulation.
- Protecting health care workers in professional rugby
Recommend to RFU and IRB that professional codes of ethics take precedence of any employer/employee contracts or other service agreement.
- Rolling substitutions
Recommend that the RFU convene a specialist group to consider the issues involved and, if appropriate, trial rolling substitutions in a domestic competition. A report to be submitted to the IRB on the success or otherwise of such a trial.
- Use of illicit drugs
Recommend that the RFU works urgently with the clubs and players associations to develop an illicit drugs policy to cover out of competition testing. Players contracts to include an obligation to comply with the requirements of such a policy. The IRB to be provided with a copy of the final policy to ensure alignment with global policies.
- Use of performance enhancing drugs
Recommend the RFU maintains its leadership position in monitoring developments in this area and establishing policies and processes to address the issue.
- Core Values
Support the roll out of the This is Rugby programme and suggest investment be increased in this important area. In particular focus on education programmes for all levels to ensure the Values are fully understood.
- Codes of conduct
Ensure the newly agreed Code of Rugby has primacy over all Codes of Conduct in the RFU and in PRL and PRA. Recommend the RFU rationalises and updates its various Codes of Conduct to make them relevant and current. Create a clearing house for Codes of Conduct in the professional game to better align them around the Core Values.
- Whistle blowing
Recommend that professional clubs review their current HR policies to enable staff and contractors to raise issues outside the line management function. RFU to ask Governance Standing Committee to consider as part of its Compliance Review.
- Technical area issues
Recommend to IRB and other governing bodies that a consistent approach to the technical zone be applied across the whole professional game including at International level. Broaden the authority of the 4th Official to govern the technical zone and better define and limit which personnel be allowed in the zone.
- Club and union governance
Recommends the RFU and PRL establish some guiding principles to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place in clubs and the union. Various areas for consideration identified.
- Improving the disciplinary process
Recommend to IRB, RFU, ERC and other competition bodies that all regulations for professional rugby at all levels include a clear timetable for dealing with allegations and for the publishing of judgments to happen within four days of a hearin
- Consistency of global sanctions
An observation made to the IRB that inconsistency in sanctions for similar cases has the potential to impact confidence in the game. IRB and RFU to take forward through their normal review processes.