In the first such case in world rugby union, former Leicester Tigers defence coach Phil Blake has been suspended from coaching for six months after being found guilty of betting on two games involving the Tigers. Mr Blake, who was formerly part of the coaching team for the Australian national side and before that a distinguished Australian rugby league player, placed eight bets totalling £1,200 on two matches involving his club, four of which he won even though his own side lost the match in question. Imposing a six month suspension, the Disciplinary Panel emphasised that “[s]uch behaviour undermines public confidence in the integrity of the sport and strikes at the foundations of the Game”. Upholding that sanction on appeal, the Appeal Panel stated that: “Participants and the public should, in our view, have no cause to doubt that what they are involved in, and are viewing is a genuine contest. A coach in Mr. Blake’s position betting on his own team in any manner (let alone on the basis that he made a profit of £339.00 as a result of betting on his team losing), clearly undermines that principle.”
The decision of the Disciplinary Panel sets a significant precedent as to the correct approach to sanctioning in such cases. It is available at http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/Governance/Disclipine/01/31/25/32/RFUDisciplinaryJudgment-Sunday24May-PhilipBlake_Neutral.pdf
James Segan represented the Rugby Football Union.