IRFU bet on Ireland's progress


RUGBY:THE IRISH Rugby Football Union has placed bets with a bookmaker on Ireland’s progress at the forthcoming World Cup in New Zealand to cover the cost of player and coach win bonuses.

Following the disclosure, in the Guardian newspaper, that the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) placed bets of up to €284,000 to cover England’s progress to the semi-finals and beyond, the union confirmed to The Irish Times that it has laid similar bets at the previous three rugby World Cups.

“The practice of insuring progression of teams in professional sport is as common as insuring private houses,” said an IRFU spokesman yesterday.

“The IRFU, through their relationship with sponsors, Paddy Powers, effectively takes out an insurance policy on the performance of the team during the World Cup to allow the union to offset and minimise the financial outlay during the tournament.

IRB regulation 6.2 prohibits any “player, referee, touch judge, coach, trainer, selector, health professional (associated with any team or player), member of team or club management, or any match official” from entering “into any wager, bet or any form of financial speculation, directly or indirectly as to the result or any other dimension or aspect of any match, tour, tournament or series of matches (international or otherwise) in which he is participating.

This, however, does not prevent a governing body from doing so.

“The Ireland team is the financial engine that supports all levels of rugby in both professional and domestic levels and the loss of revenue of no November games, bonuses and other financial outlays related to progression in the World Cup means that the IRFU would insure themselves against this,” the IRFU spokesman continued.

“This has been done in the past three World Cup tournaments and will do for this one. We do not do this outside of the World Cup.”

For example, there is no bet placed by the union on Ireland winning the Grand Slam or any other international fixture as these win bonuses are already included in the annual team budget.

The Guardian reported the RFU has placed their bets on England being successful at this year’s World Cup to cover win bonuses that could potentially reach €2.55 million should Martin Johnson’s squad progress to the latter stages of the tournament.

England must reach the semi-finals for the RFU to win their bets, which will ensure they cover all player and coach payouts.

A spokesman for the English union said: “I am sure that we, as a professional and responsible sports governing body, are not alone in ensuring we minimise our financial risks at all times, including around tournaments such as the rugby World Cup. This is not unique practice but rather financially prudent so that we can continue to invest in the grassroots of the sport.

This is seen as common practice in many sports, where sponsors of individual sportsmen, like golfers and tennis players, cover potential bonus payments for tournament wins by betting on the outcomes.

The IRFU would not reveal how much they have bet on Ireland’s progress at the World Cup or what bonus payments have been agreed upon. Ireland can currently be backed at 33 to 1 to win the tournament and 1 to 16 to qualify from Pool C, which also includes Australia, Italy, the USA and Russia.