The RPA, supported by the PPF (Professional Players’ Federation) and in consultation with RFU and Premiership Rugby, have instigated a Betting Integrity Programme, which included a presentation given to players at each of the 12 Aviva Premiership clubs.

Betting and match fixing has hit the back pages for all the wrong reasons in recent times, most notably in football, cricket and snooker.Betting and match fixing hits any sport at its core in the same manner as anti-doping, undermining the competition, honesty, trust and integrity of the sport.

Bearing this in mind and the recent spate of high profile cases, players at the 12 Aviva Premiership Clubs attended a seminar where they received information regarding RFU policy and consequences of betting.

Richard Bryan, PDM (Player Development Manager) for London Irish and Bath, said: “We are carrying out the programme because over the course of last year a number of sports have been hit by scandals.
“Although nothing has come to light in rugby, it is always better to play safe and make sure the players are educated. This is a proactive programme rather than a reactive programme.”

Prior to putting together the presentation, the RPA Player Development Managers and Player Services Manager spent the day at Betfair headquarters to learn about the systems and how Betfair monitor bets and accounts. This information helped devise the programme rolled out to the players, and was used to inform players on the scale of information that companies such as Betfair maintain. The information relayed was a clear indication to the players of the scale of security based around betting, and reinforced the levels that companies such as Betfair take to ensure integrity is maintained. Players were also informed about ‘Sports Betting Intelligence Unit’ which aims to recognise any bizarre patterns in betting and results and potentially investigate them further.

Central to the presentation was the RFU legislation on betting and wagering, which players were educated and fully informed on. Players were taken through the regulations, their meaning, and were given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the regulations imposed. The ‘Don’t Bet On It’ motto that encompassed the programme left the players with a clear message to take away.

The feedback* from the players reinforced the importance and significance of the programme, with 59% of players saying they were previously unaware of the regulations on betting within the game. Having seen the presentation, 95% said they are now more aware of the rules of betting and 84% of players saying that they found the presentation useful.

Senior Harlequins player Will Skinner commented: “I knew the basic fundamentals of betting but we are now aware of the finer details. It was a good seminar and we all came away much better informed of the do’s and don’ts of the betting world. Some players in the past may have fallen into the pitfalls of perhaps giving tips on games or any inside information to friends and families. Even though they would not have directly affected the game, we have learnt that you can be charged for being involved indirectly.”

Following on from the delivery of the programme to the Premiership players, Tim Nicholls, Head PDM, was given the opportunity to present at the Betting Integrity conference in London to the Sports Minister and other sporting bodies regarding the implementation of the programme. It was clear from this that the RPA was ahead of the game compared to most sports.

Tim Nicholls said: “We were very flattered to be asked to present our betting integrity programme to other sports. It’s great to see that the RPA’s player development programme is held in high regard, especially shown through these educational initiatives.”

RPA Chairman and newly retired Bath prop, David Barnes commented on the overall programme: “The Betting Integrity Programme run by the RPA was integral to further educating the players of the rules and regulations regarding sports betting and the issues of match fixing.
“This continued education is key for maintaining sporting integrity within rugby union.”

*Feedback based on the results of 187 surveys taken from players at 12 Premiership Clubs

11 May 2011, 3:40 pm
By Caroline Guthrie