Betting Scandal Rocks Rugby on Eve of World Cup!
A betting scandal has ROCKED rugby to the core just days away from the opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup! Just as I have been saying for like, LITERALLY YEARS, it appears that sports betting syndicates have infiltrated the sacred game of rugby in pursuit of illicit profits!
The first bombshell to be detonated was the news that Wales assistant coach Rob Howley had been sent home after the media learned he was the subject of an investigation into an alleged breach of World Rugby’s regulation six, which governs corruption in the sport as well as gambling on the outcome of games. Even more bizarre is that it appears that Howley was turned in by one of the bookmakers themselves! Apparently a member of the betting company’s integrity teams (can you believe such an oxymoron exists?!) contacted the Wales Rugby Union to inform them of Howley’s involvement. You know it’s bad when the bookmakers themselves turn you in!
But if that wasn’t enough to vindicate the old Belsonator, it then emerged just a few days later that World Rugby itself had put all 20 teams at the World Cup on high alert about the dangers of betting syndicates. Teams have apparently even been briefed by World Rugby’s own integrity unit (another oxymoron!) highlighting the dangers of being influenced by bookmakers. Players have been instructed to turn off their mobile phones within an hour of kick-off to protect them from outside influence. Apparently this is a measure copied from cricket, a sport that has been plagued by betting for years.
Now where have we heard this before? Haven’t I been warning for YEARS that if EVERY major sporting code on earth has been tarnished by blatant cheating, doping, bribery and behind the scenes influence brokering, that it would be naïve in the extreme to expect that rugby would remain immune from such nefarious activity? Everything from international cricket to the Tour de France, the Olympics, boxing (hello SBW), the NBA, long distance running…even the frikkin Paralympics….has been tainted by cheating! Why would rugby be any different?
However, it remains a mystery as to why World Rugby would brief all the players at the tournament and require them to hand in their phones, yet not require the same of referees. Surely if betting syndicates have been targeting players and coaching staff they’d be even keener to get their hands on referees given that they have an even greater ability to influence the outcome of games? UK papers are reporting that England players were told during their briefing by World Rugby’s integrity unit on Monday that at the 2015 Rugby World Cup there were no less than six instances of suspicious approaches made to players and/or coaching staff. Why has nothing been said about whether referees were approached? I mean, bookmakers would stand to lose a huge amount of money if there were a major upset in a game….like Scotland beating Australia in a quarter final for instance? Or the All Blacks losing a world cup final on home soil to France maybe? Bryce Lawrence, a referee who was mired in controversy after his farcical performance in the quarter final between Australia and South Africa at the 2011 rugby world cup even openly admitted to being influenced behind the scenes before the game. Here is his exact quote: “I had outside pressure from pretty senior people from rugby countries behind the scenes…”
In fact, maybe this is why so many rugby fans are concerned that the All Blacks appear to constantly get special treatment from referees? I mean, wouldn’t bookmakers stand to lose a lot of money if perennial favourites like the All Blacks didn’t win as expected? Have bookmakers gotten to referees and persuaded them that it’s not in their interests to let the All Blacks lose? Only time will tell. After all, the truth always comes out in the end. Lies are just a temporary delay to the inevitable. Just ask Bry…..sorry, I mean Lance Armstrong.