Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul: Smug rugby bosses need to come clean

Rugby's always had a slightly smug, superior attitude when it comes to issues of integrity; as if the moral fibre of all those involved is too great to be tempted by such things as match-fixing or drug taking.

It's hard to understand why because there have been plenty who have done the latter and, to some degree, there is evidence of the former - that being the almost unbelievable so-called "bloodgate" scandal in 2009, when English Premiership side Harlequins used a fake blood capsule to try to bring an already replaced player back on.

What the events in Sydney this week should have done is wake everyone up to the fact rugby is just like every other sport.

It's as vulnerable to corruption and scandal as everything else. There is no justification for the holier-than-thou attitudes and belief the game is beyond corruption.

What should also have become apparent this week is that rugby executives need to lose their culture of secrecy and sense of entitlement that information that affects everyone is theirs to control.

It would seem Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver felt the real crime in all this was the timing. "I'm utterly disappointed the story would break on match day and, frankly, that's all I've got to say.

'I'm disappointed it gets out to the media on the day of a Bledisloe Cup match."

His counterpart at New Zealand Rugby, Steve Tew, should also be forced to explain why, five days after discovering the device, they hadn't notified any of the appropriate rugby authorities - World Rugby and/or Sanzaar - or any law enforcement agency.

The major concern for the sport is that the listening device might have been planted by an illegal betting syndicate, hoping to gain inside information about the All Blacks' gameplan and selections.

It would seem, therefore, that protocol for teams to follow in case of future integrity issues need to be made clear.

What's emerged in this case is that there was either no clear procedure for NZR to follow or, if they had guidelines, they need to revise them.

Leaving aside the impact this news could have on legitimate and legal betting agencies, there is, surely, some kind of obligation for executives, if they know integrity has been compromised, to reveal that immediately to the appropriate authorities.

As to whether the issue should be made public, again, there has to be a realisation that the people who really matter in sport are the players and the paying public.

The latter had a right to know the integrity of the game had been compromised in the same way they would if one of the players involved had tested positive for drugs or been suspected of taking a bribe.

Rugby executives all too easily revert to their unwritten code of secrecy and belief they can cover almost anything up.

It's as sad as it is ridiculous and, if the penny hasn't dropped about the need for transparency and process, then perhaps it will by the end of the investigation.

- Herald on Sunday

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Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer. He has written several books on rugby including the Reign of King Henry, Black Obsession and For the Love of the Game.

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