Mobile phone ban follows breach of betting regulations
England’s national rugby team agreed to a self-imposed ban on all mobile phones on matchdays for the duration of this year’s Rugby World Cup (RWC). The decision follows in the wake of previous allegations emerging during the previous RWC in 2015.
The English team’s decision to impose a ban on matchday mobile communications came after a 20-minute meeting with the RWC’s anti-corruption just days prior to the Welsh attack coach receiving his marching orders from the 2019 RWC. The wisdom of the English squad’s resolution to ban mobiles further compounded by Wales assistant coach Rob Howley’s departure from the RWC after he allegedly breached anti-corruption and betting regulations.
The ban, an attempt to pre-empt potential problematic accusations and situations for members of England’s squad, comes into effect during all matchdays for the entire English squad and its support staff. The ban only became public following the announcement of accusations against Welsh assistant coach Howley and his subsequent return home.
The England rugby squad and its support staff received an instruction banning the use of mobile phones on matchdays for the duration of the Rugby World Cup. During the English team’s meeting earlier in the week they attended a 20-minute presentation outlining the case surrounding Phil Blake, former defence coach for Leicester. In 2014 he received a six-month ban for contravening the betting regulations imposed by the Rugby Football Union.
Since the incident affecting the Welsh team, the full complement of 20 teams competing in the tournament have been on high alert. The very real dangers surrounding gambling is an issue pointedly acknowledged by the English team.
Nonetheless, according to reports, the RWC’s integrity unit briefed the squad a second time, highlighting the fact that suspicions arose in 2015 during the previous RWC tournament. An event hosted by England that gave rise to six reported incidents involving gambling suspicions affecting team players or support staff.
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Upon conclusion of the meetings and presentations, all involved with the English team were required to sign documents confirming they understood the information conveyed. These combined occurrences led to the decision to ban the use of mobile phones for the England team during RWC 2019 matchdays in order to protect members of the team, preventing them from becoming targeted for insider information.
Upon hearing of Rob Howley’s pending investigation and return from Japan, members of the England team expressed their surprise due to the amount of information relating to gambling awareness.
Neil Hatley assistant team coach for England stated the team had discussed and reached clarity about integrity regulations. The acceptable norms were also made quite clear to the players and support staff.
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