Bloomberg News

England Coaches Suspended for Swapping Balls at Rugby World Cup

September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- England kicking coach Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon were suspended for the Rugby World Cup Pool B decider against Scotland for swapping balls in the team’s last game.

Alred and Stridgeon were found to have illegally switched match balls during England’s 67-3 win over Romania on Sept. 24 in Dunedin, New Zealand. They were reprimanded and suspended following an internal Rugby Football Union review after tournament organizers opened an investigation into the matter, the RFU said.

“It’s unfortunate that we have had to take this action but ultimately there was a breach of the laws of the game,” England team manager Martin Johnson said in a statement. “But it’s happened, some action has been taken and we have to move on.”

The suspension means that Alred and Stridgeon will be banned from entering Auckland’s Eden Park for the match against Scotland in three days. England is seeking its fourth straight win to guarantee a spot in the quarterfinals.

Alred and Stridgeon had mistakenly thought that there was an issue with some of the match balls used in the Romania match, the RFU said.

“Those team management members took it upon themselves to substitute balls during the match in contravention of both the laws of the game and the spirit of the game,” English rugby’s governing body added.

Rugby World Cup Ltd., which runs the 20-nation tournament, said it welcomed the RFU’s “timely and decisive action.”

“RWCL recognizes that the RFU has investigated this matter fully and taken appropriate action and therefore no further action is required,” it said in a statement.

--Editor: Paul Tighe

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net


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