The New Zealand Rugby Union's integrity unit have made their first statement issuing a directive for all players and administrators involved in the professional game to sign a pledge against corruption.
Close to 2000 people involved in the professional and semi-professional game, including players, coaches and managers, have been warned against betting on rugby, regardless of whether it is played here, or overseas.
Regulations also stipulate these people cannot get anyone to bet on their behalf; fix or attempt to fix a match, tournament or series, intentionally perform below their best for reward or give, receive, request or offer any reward which could bring the game into disrepute or threaten the integrity of the game. Neither can they tamper with or destroy evidence like betting records and use or reveal inside information for gambling or reward.
Based on IRB regulations, the maximum possible sanction for prohibited wagering under the NZRU's new rules is a one year ban. For corruption a life ban from all involvement in the game can be handed down.
Corruption may also amount to a criminal offence which carries with it a risk of prison and other criminal sanctions.
NZRU general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorensen said it was vital to protect the integrity of rugby by ensuring the game in New Zealand remained free of any kind of corruption.
"We want rugby to remain an honest test of skill and ability," he said. "Our sport has a good record, but we can't take it for granted.
"We've seen international examples of the damage that corruption can do to sport and we don't want to see that happen in rugby - that's why we're reminding people involved in the game about keeping it free of corruption."
A series of seminars run by NZRU staff, which began with the Highlanders yesterday, are being run over coming months and aim to educate the professional and semi-professional rugby community about their responsibilities.
The anti-corruption initiative is part of a broader NZRU integrity programme which also aims to enhance education and monitoring around the use of supplements, prescription medicines, alcohol and drugs.
- Fairfax Media
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