Rugby World Cup will break new ground on Sunday when the 20 teams, management, match officials and Tournament organisers unite to show their support for the International Rugby Board’s Anti-Doping education programme.
Sunday has been designated Keep Rugby Clean Day and as such teams will wear specially branded t-shirts with the messages ‘Tackle Doping’ and ‘Keep Rugby Clean’ emblazoned on them to promote the campaign.
Three matches take place on Sunday with Fiji tackling Samoa at Eden Park, Argentina playing Scotland in Wellington and Ireland taking on Russia in Rotorua with the teams set to wear the Keep Rugby Clean t-shirts prior to the match.
Ball boys and girls across the three venues will also wear the t-shirts along with the match official teams, who will sport the t-shirt for their warm-ups. The other 14 teams will show their support by wearing the t-shirt in training sessions or other activities.
The Keep Rugby Clean campaign has the support of a number of leading international players, with four of the IRB Anti-Doping Ambassadors in action at RWC 2011 in Felipe Contepomi of Argentina, South Africa’s Bryan Habana, France’s Vincent Clerc and James Hook of Wales.
Contepomi, who returns from injury to captain Argentina in their must-win Pool B match against Scotland, said: “I am proud to be an Ambassador of the IRB’s Keep Rugby Clean campaign. The ethos of fair play is essential to the spirit of the Game and in ensuring a level playing field for all.”
“As players we have a collective responsibility to educate the next generation of Rugby players at all levels and I invite my fellow competitors from all teams at the Rugby World Cup to support the Keep Rugby Clean Day on 25 September and spread the Keep Rugby Clean message by wearing the special T-shirts.”
Keep Rugby Clean is the Game’s leading Anti-Doping educational programme and has played a central role in the fight against drugs cheats in Rugby since its launch in 2005, with over 6,000 of the world’s top players having participated in the interactive sessions run by the IRB at its Tournaments around the world.
Campaigns already run at the IRB Junior World Championship, IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, IRB Nations Cup, HSBC Sevens World Series, Women’s Rugby World Cup and Rugby World Cup Sevens have proven highly successful in educating players about the dangers of doping through a combination of a free-to-use interactive website and hands on workshops.
IRB Anti-Doping Manager Tim Ricketts added: “Keep Rugby Clean is really about spreading the message to all involved in the Game and outside as well that there is no place for drugs in Rugby. It’s not just about the IRB spreading this message but also the players, their team management, match officials, the Unions, everyone involved in the Game.”
“Rugby has a very good track record in terms of being a clean sport and we want to keep it that way. We implement an extensive in and out of competition programme at various levels across the game at international level, and take a zero tolerance position to that.”
“But it must be supported by a strong education programme, the Keep Rugby Clean programme is a key part of that. We have had great support over the years from the players and the participating teams to support this message. It is a great message and a great initiative for Rugby.”
Praised by WADA for its comprehensive educational and testing programmes, the IRB has implemented an extensive testing programme for Rugby World Cup 2011 which will be delivered by Drug Free Sport New Zealand.
In partnership with its 117 Member Unions, the IRB operated a record testing and education programme in 2010. The IRB undertook 1,288 tests across men’s and women’s Fifteens and Sevens competitions in addition to over 4,000 controls undertaken by IRB Member Unions and National Anti-Doping Agencies. Despite the rigorous testing programme, there were just five IRB Anti-Doping rule violations in 2010.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The International Rugby Board operates a zero tolerance policy towards drug cheats in Rugby. The Keep Rugby Clean programme has proven central in our mission to ensure that players around the world are prepared and informed in promoting drug free Rugby.”
“Given the global exposure that Rugby World Cup will enjoy through television coverage in over 200 territories, New Zealand 2011 will provide the perfect platform to promote the Keep Rugby Clean message to everyone in the Game at all levels from the players to the fans.”
“We are delighted that all the teams are united in support of the programme and would like to thank them for the time that they will invest during the tournament in spreading what is a very important message.”