English rugby agent Matt Hart handed 22-month ban over betting

Report finds that Hart made close to 1,500 bets on rugby games

 

Agent Matt Hart has been suspended for 22 months after placing almost 1,500 bets on rugby worldwide and depositing in excess of £660,000 (€760,000) into a betting account.

Hart, who works for Stellar Management and represents England stars Maro Itoje and Ben Te’o among others, will be unable to work in the sport until February 2020, having been found guilty of two breaches of betting regulations.

A three-man independent panel heard two charges of contravening both World Rugby and Rugby Football Union regulations.

The first charge related to betting on the outcome and/or any aspect of an event and receiving part or all of the proceeds of such betting and the second was for non-cooperation with a request for information from the RFU anti-corruption officer.

In the written judgement of the hearing, it was revealed that between January 2013 and July 2016 Hart placed 1,476 bets on the Bet365 account registered in his name and that he received the proceeds – or parts of the proceeds – of the successful bets.

According to the document, there was no suggestion that “any betting was inspired by any particular piece of ‘inside information’” and nor was there “any suggestion of match or outcome manipulation”.

Hart’s defence was based on the claim that he was placing the bets on behalf of his father, a point rejected by the panel after it found that Hart had received some of the withdrawals.

“Matt Hart had been put under real emotional pressure by his father to do so [place bets], in order to save his father’s relationship with his mother, and his own relationship with his father. The bets were funded by his father,” the judgement read.

A record of the withdrawals and deposits shows that within the relevant period £661,439.17 was deposited and £419,384.90 withdrawn, meaning £242,090.27 more was deposited than withdrawn.

“This decision unequivocally demonstrates that any activity which undermines the integrity of our sport, and exposes players and rugby to potential integrity issues, will be treated seriously,” RFU anti-corruption officer Alys Lewis said.

“The sums of money involved and the frequency and duration of the betting, coupled with the lack of cooperation with the RFU’s investigation, have all contributed to a substantial suspension from rugby union which is welcomed by the RFU.”

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