PtG Article 02.09.2009
The bloody mess in rugby
In August it was announced that rugby would be up for election as an Olympic sport at the Olympic Congress in October. But the joy this announcement caused in the world of rugby has been replaced with worries as a series of tarnishing incidents have been revealed during the summer.
By: Stine Alvad
In August it was announced that rugby would be up for election as an Olympic sport at the Olympic Congress in October. But the joy this announcement caused in the world of rugby has been replaced with worries as a series of tarnishing incidents have been revealed during the summer. The incidents, now known as ‘bloodgate’, began was when it was discovered that a player from English rugby team Harlequin, during a quarter final in the Heineken Cup, had bitten in a fake blood capsule to simulate a blood injury in order to be replaced.‘Bloodgate’ has since then reached the highest level of the sport after allegations that also the English national team has been cheating systematically, faking blood injuries.Money is to blameAccording to Rob Andrew, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) director of elite rugby, the professionalism that may be bringing the sport to the Olympics might also be the reason for the recent scandals. “Rugby’s transition from amateur sport to professionalism over the last decade has had an impact on the core values of the sport”, he says in an interview with the Guardian."Professional rugby was inevitable and the right way to go. But you begin to ask whether there was an element of self-policing with regard to those values in the amateur game," Andrew continues, "Maybe we've got catching up to do in reminding people that, yes, there is a lot of money and a lot at stake in winning World Cups and Heineken Cups. Those pressures weren't there in the old days. But we've got to make sure they don't hijack our values."There is a bottom line because there is a lot of investment from people in the game and this brings new challenges – and we're now seeing some people fall in the face of those challenges."The aftermatchToday the last judgements in the case were published, declaring that the former coach Dean Williams, was the mastermind behind 'Bloodgate'. A task group from RFU has set out to thoroughly review this incident, along with other incidents that have been revealed. The task group’s report will contain recommendations as to how to clean up the sport and will be handed to the RFU management board before its meeting on September 30.RFU president and chairman of the task group John Owen has faith in the sport after all.“The game is very good in heart”, he says according to AFP. “There have been setbacks this summer but we will come back stronger.”