RFU reveals 'Image of the Game' findings
September 30, 2009
Lawrence Dallaglio formed part of the 'Image of the Game' task-force © Getty Images
The RFU's 'Image of the Game' task force has unveiled 16 measures that it believes will help to rid the game of cheating.
The 13-man panel, including former England skipper Lawrence Dallaglio and RFU chief executive Francis Baron, was formed in the wake of the Harlequins 'Bloodgate' scandal and five drug-related suspensions at Bath.
The recommendations were based on a survey of professional players and 4,500 responses from grassroots rugby. The group also reviewed all of England's substitutions at Twickenham between 2002 and 2009 and at the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups and met with banned former Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards and his legal team.
Among the group's findings was "no substantiation whatsoever" for allegations that cheating is widespread in the game, and "no substance whatsoever" in speculation that the England team has fabricated blood injuries.
Included within the list are new ideas on the management of blood injuries and also on the prorities for medical staff, who it is suggested should be bound by their ethical responsibilities rather than club orders. Closer scrutiny of technical areas during games was also suggested.
The findings also cover uncontested scrums, as well as suggestions for concussed players to be temporarily replaced.
A trial involving rolling replacements and new rules allowing players to use local anaesthetics on certain injuries before games were also put forward as possibilites. In relation to drugs, the task force was clear that a program for preventing illegal drug use should be drawn up to include out-of-competition testing.
Another issue that was tackled is the consistency of sanctions against players across the world game so as to create a feeling of confidence in the disciplinary process.
"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," said RFU president John Owen. "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 (PRA) and Premier Rugby 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 task group's recommendations will now be submitted to the RFU management board, who will be responsible for steering it through proper processes within the RFU and IRB.
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