TACKLING A PROBLEM: Keep Rugby Clean is one of the leading anti-doping education programmes
Rugby World Cup 2015 will provide an unprecedented global stage to educate the next generation of rugby stars about the pitfalls and health dangers of doping, underscoring World Rugby’s zero-tolerance approach to drug cheats in rugby.
With England 2015 set to be the most viewed and socially-engaged Rugby World Cup ever, a dedicated Keep Rugby Clean Day will take place on 26 September when England face Wales, South Africa take on Samoa and Italy play Canada.
Keep Rugby Clean is recognised as one of the leading anti-doping education programmes, having supported more than 13,000 players and team management since its launch in 2005 and is a mandatory player welfare education component of every World Rugby event.
Keep Rugby Clean aims to assist players and support staff understand their responsibilities when it comes to competing clean and highlight the health and career dangers of taking shortcuts to make it to the top, using hard-hitting videos featuring players who have been banned for doping.
Respect and integrity
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Doping is the biggest threat to the integrity of sport and the fight against doping begins with education. Rugby is a sport built on strong character-building values of respect, integrity, passion, discipline and solidarity and every player has the right to complete on a level playing field. Keep Rugby Clean Day is a key element of our education strategy to deter doping and promote the importance of a maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
"Rugby World Cup is the biggest sporting event of 2015 and the biggest event in the UK since the London Olympics and we have a golden opportunity for the world’s top players to play their role in educating and informing the next generation of rugby stars, support staff and parents in order that they are equipped to make the right choices and are in the best-possible position to compete and win clean."
In a unified show of support for the campaign, each of the 20 teams will wear dedicated Keep Rugby Clean t-shirts on the day, either for training or in match warm-ups. Match and tournament officials will also sport the t-shirts, while dedicated promotion will take place in stadiums and across social media.
With anti-doping education mandatory for participating teams at all World Rugby events, all of the 620 players, along with team management, have undertaken education modules ahead of the event. This is in addition to the 13,000 players, coaches and medics who have undertaken mandatory World Rugby education.
Lapasset added: "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 and providing a strong anti-doping message, not just in rugby, but to wider society."
The Keep Rugby Clean campaign has the support of a number of top players, including WADA Athlete Committee member and former Argentina captain Dr Felipe Contepomi and Keep Rugby Clean Ambassadors David Pocock, Sam Warburton and Bryan Habana.
Contepomi said: "I am proud to support the World Rugby Keep Rugby Clean campaign. There is no substitute for hard work when striving for the top in any walk of life and playing rugby is no different. The ethos of integrity and fair play is essential to the spirit and integrity of the game and in ensuring a level playing field for all."
England prop Dan Cole added: "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 26 September and spread the Keep Rugby Clean message by wearing the special t-shirts."
Commended by WADA for its comprehensive educational and testing programmes, World Rugby will be implementing an extensive testing programme for Rugby World Cup 2015, which will be delivered by field-leader UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).
WADA Director General David Howman added: "By hosting its Keep Rugby Clean Day at Rugby World Cup 2015, World Rugby is once again demonstrating its strong clean sport credentials.
"Educating and informing today’s rugby players is important, but it is only by carrying the preventative message to the rugby players of tomorrow that we will be able to level the playing field fully and ensure that sport is competed fairly and without its integrity being questioned.”
World Rugby has joined forces with UKAD, the agency responsible for running the testing programme at Rugby World Cup 2015. Chief Executive Nicole Sapstead said: "Education will always be crucial to our shared mission to keep sport clean. Providing athletes, coaches and support staff with an understanding of the risks they face to their careers, and in many cases their health, if they decide to break the rules is an integral part of deterring doping, and protecting the integrity of sport.
"By committing to deterring and detecting doping, World Rugby are ensuring that the Ruby World Cup leaves behind a robust anti-doping legacy in the UK."
World Rugby has increased its anti-doping investment by 30 per cent in 2015 and in 2014 undertook a record in and out of competition intelligent testing programme 2,021 samples last year. The programme, which included a further increase in blood and urine testing, resulted in four anti-doping rule violations.
Last year World Rugby began its Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme, monitoring individual biological profiles collected in urine and blood over time. The ABP looks for changes in the profiles that may indirectly indicate doping and allows for better targeting of players for specific analysis.
In and out-of-competition testing at World Rugby’s flagship tournaments included Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifiers, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014, HSBC World Rugby Series, World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, World Rugby U20 tournaments and age-grade rugby. Rugby operated a record testing and education programme in 2014.
Details of the Rugby World Cup 2015 Testing Programme will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on World Rugby's testing programme and educational resources go to www.keeprugbyclean.com>>.