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Rugby union is incorruptible, says top coach

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Rugby is clean: White

Brumbies coach Jake White says rugby union has a "massive clean slate" with performance enhancing drugs and no team would "even contemplate match fixing".

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World Cup-winning coach Jake White says match fixing hasn't been a problem in rugby union, "and won't be".

The Australian Crime Commission announced on Thursday that personal relationships between athletes and organised criminals "have resulted in match fixing and the fraudulent manipulation of betting markets".

The commission's report did not reveal the codes in question, but the coach of the ACT Brumbies was quick to dismiss suggestions they could occur in his sport.

Confident ... rugby union's "magnificence" makes it hard to rig, says Jake White.

Confident ... rugby union's "magnificence" makes it hard to rig, says Jake White. Photo: Getty Images

"The one thing that's magnificent about rugby union is that it's such a difficult game to even think about match fixing," said White, who guided South Africa to victory in 2007.

"In other games when the margins are nil-nil results, or a team concedes one goal … rugby is such a fluid and dynamic game that it would stick out like a sore thumb if you even try to do something that's match fixing.

"If you think about a prop forward kicking a goal and there's money on that, people would smell a rat from a mile away."

The ACC revealed that its probe, code-named Project Aperio, found evidence of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, as well as possible attempts to fix matches and manipulate betting markets.

White said rugby union had "a massive clean slate" when it came to drugs.

"Every player at the World Cup was tested, and I don't think anyone was reported for testing positive. It's a great advert for rugby union in the world that we've managed to keep our sport drug-free.''

The idea of match fixing was also difficult to imagine in the AFL, according to coach Kevin Sheedy, but he admitted that all sports were open to corruption, calling the report's findings a "rude awakening for a lot of people".

"Our [sport] will be difficult [to fix], it's a bouncing-ball game," said the inaugural GWS Giants coach.

"From my point of view there's so many close games now, it's a tight contest, you've got about eight coaches in every club.

"Look at last year's grand final, three minutes to go and there's a kick in it," Sheedy said.

The new head of Australian Rugby Union, Bill Pulver, said on Thursday the report was "a very timely wake-up call for all professional sports in Australia".

"We were aware for some time of issues relating to performance enhancing drugs, but less aware of connections to organised crime and potential match fixing,” Mr Pulver said.

He said that his organisation would have "complete co-operation" with the Australian Crime Commission and USADA when it came to "putting initiatives in place to preserve the integrity of Australian sport".

Both the AFL and the Australian Rugby Union already have an integrity unit. In response to the report, the National Rugby League has announced its own integrity unit.

34 comments so far

  • You mean union games are naturally boring? And I'm sure Lawrence Dallaglio would back you up about the sport being clean Jake...

    Mungo Jerry
    Date and time
    February 08, 2013, 1:26PM
    • There's been proven match fixing in basketball and in cricket, both of which would seem to have much higher scores than rugby.

      Everybody knows that match fixing could never happen in rugby as the lads went to much better schools than that other code.

      And of course, nobody has ever taken any performance enhancing drugs in rugby either, so don't even ask.

      Date and time
      February 08, 2013, 1:29PM
      • erm, Lance was tested over seven different TdF's and he was never found to be positive. How can "all the players in the RWC being tested and not showing as positive" be remotely valid? There appears to be a bucket load of nativity around, not only by the way this 'scandal' is being hyped by the media to drum up a public outrage... but even within the codes themselves. You're kidding yourself if you think than Rugby Union is clean, either with drugs or with fixing.

        Fred of Sydney
        Date and time
        February 08, 2013, 1:30PM
        • "a bucket load of nativity around"

          Sorry, mate, Christmas has come and gone...

          avente, alphanor concourse
          Date and time
          February 08, 2013, 3:29PM
        • it's obvious what word you were intending to use so I'm not knocking your typo, but I did have a giggle imagining rugby players dressed up in nativity scene outfits left right and centre!.

          Date and time
          February 08, 2013, 3:34PM
        • Ah, yes... Naivety rather than nativity, choice! Though it does conjure up images of burly, juiced up Rugby players performing it, maybe through interpretive dance? ;) could that bring the resurrection of Rugby Union?

          Fred of Sydney
          Date and time
          February 08, 2013, 5:55PM
      • What a load of rubbish. Union has so many penalty stoppages it is actually an ideal game to try to fix. There are so many ways to give away yet another penalty if someone wanted, and you could be virtually assured that the attacking team would take the kick since they hardly ever give away the option to take yet another cheap, easy 3 points.

        Date and time
        February 08, 2013, 1:32PM
        • Utter piffle.
          Let's bet on who will be first penalised in a match.
          Who will score first (al la Rugby League)

          Date and time
          February 08, 2013, 1:36PM
          • Jake and Kevin are being a bit naive... Match fixing doesn't always involve bets on the final result of a game, a fact Jake seems to be alluding to with "a prop forward kicking a goal" - but in the case of Union, what's so fishy about a regular team kicker missing his first, second and/or third shot at goal? It's hardly strange unless perhaps it's a kick right in front. From yellow cards to knock-ons, there are still a wide range of areas of a game where bookmakers are willing to take a bet, and the results can be influenced by match fixers.

            Date and time
            February 08, 2013, 1:38PM
            • Wow, what a stunningly naive opinion. About the only thing that could stop match fixing in rugby is the fact that no one cares about the game.

              Date and time
              February 08, 2013, 1:41PM

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