The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has concluded its investigation into a complaint made by Sale Sharks following the alleged passing of information to an opposition club.
Sale alleged that confidential tactical information had been passed by former player Tom Arscott to his brother Luke Arscott of Bristol Rugby the night before their match on 1 January 2017.
It was also suggested that this information had been passed to coaches and players at Bristol and that it had been used by the club for their own benefit.
It was alleged that this conduct was in breach of RFU Regulation 17 (Anti-Corruption and Betting).
Following receiving Sale’s letter of complaint on 16 January 2016, the RFU interviewed 25 individuals from both clubs and inquiries were made with various betting operators in order to determine whether there had been any breaches of any RFU rules or regulations, in particular RFU Regulation 17.
Following the investigation the RFU has concluded the following:
• Tom Arscott discussed tactical information with his brother Luke Arscott ahead of the match. This information related to Sale using some backs in their lineout on occasion and that another back would be defending in a different position at times.
• The RFU has determined that this information, while at the lower end of the scale of seriousness, falls within the definition of inside information (as per Regulation 17.2).
• But in the absence of any evidence of betting or fixing, there had not been a breach of RFU Regulation 17.
• However, the RFU has deemed that Tom Arscott’s behaviour was inappropriate and the player has received a written warning for his conduct and he will be required to undertake a relevant World Rugby education module.
• Information that was passed from Tom Arscott to Luke Arscott regarding the proposed defensive structure in the Sale backline was provided to two Bristol coaches.
• However, in the absence of any evidence of a suspicion of fixing/betting etc., the RFU has determined that Bristol did not fail to comply with the relevant reporting requirements in relation to the inside information that the club received.
• There was no evidence to demonstrate that Bristol changed any of their game strategy to deal with Sale’s defensive positional changes.
Gerard McEvilly, RFU Head of Discipline said: “In determining what action should be taken following the investigation we have taken into account that Tom Arscott has already paid a heavy price for his conduct in having been dismissed from his employment by Sale Sharks.
“These issues have arisen because of the inappropriate sharing of information while players were socialising in the same hotel before the match. Therefore, the RFU is strongly recommending to both clubs that all their players are reminded of their contractual and ethical obligations to their employing clubs and of the problems that may arise should confidential/inside information be passed between individuals.
“I would like to thank both clubs for their significant assistance in this investigation.”