Former Manly and South Sydney rugby league player Phil Blake has become the first person to be banned by England’s governing Rugby Football Union for breaching rules governing betting and anti-corruption.
London-born Blake was banned for six months after being found guilty of betting on matches involving English Premiership side Leicester while working as a defence coach for the Tigers.
He placed bets on Leicester’s European Champions Cup tie with Toulon on December 13 an their Premiership clash against Newcastle on March 8.
Blake, 51, was fined STG669 ($A1,365) – the profit made on the bets placed – and ordered to pay costs of STG500 ($A1,000).
He was also banned from all rugby-related activity until November 24, 2015 after his bets on a self-service gambling machine at Leicester’s Grosvenor Casino were spotted by an employee who realised he was on the Tigers’ staff.
Under the RFU’s Regulation 17, rugby professionals are prohibited from betting on any match within any competition involving their team.
“Having my whole career on the line for a minimum gain is something I will regret for the rest of my life,” Blake told an RFU disciplinary panel.
Blake’s bet on the European match meant he would win if Leicester won the game, or lost by fewer than 19 points. Toulon won 23-8.
He also bet on his side to beat Newcastle.
Blake, in a letter to the RFU, said he had no specific knowledge of their gambling regulations.
“I am, of course, aware that it is not appropriate, in most jurisdictions, to gamble against one’s own team, but I was not aware of the exact regulations that pertain in the UK,” he said.
“I saw some very favourable odds on Tigers to beat Newcastle and thought that there would be little harm arising from my betting on Tigers to win.
“I accept, with hindsight, that I could have made money even if Toulon had won the game but I never saw it in this light when making the bet and it was never my intention to bet against my own team.”
Blake joined Leicester for the 2014/15 season but was not retained at the end of the campaign.
Christopher Quinlan, the lawyer who chaired the initial disciplinary panel, said: “This is the first such case that we know of in rugby union and is certainly the first brought under the relatively new Regulation 17 so this is new ground.
“We have imposed a sanction which we consider fair and proportionate to what he did, while having due regard to the proper consideration of deterrence.”
Leicester backed the RFU’s decision, saying in a statement, saying it “fully endorses” the governing body’s determination to clamp down on breaches of anti-corruption and betting regulations.
“”The club would, however, like to place on record, as it did during his time at Leicester, that he was a popular and valued member of the coaching team and we hope he is fully able to return to the game in a suitable capacity at the end of the period laid down by the disciplinary hearing.”