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English Rugby
Task-force to offer immunity for information
September 8, 2009

The newly-formed 'Image of the Game' task group is set to offer immunity to players in return for information on the extent of cheating in the professional game following their first meeting.

The 13-man panel, chaired by RFU president John Owen and also featuring World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio, has been charged with carrying out a "wide-ranging and thorough review" of all of the problems currently affecting the game in the wake of 'Bloodgate' and the drugs scandal at Bath.

The group has enlisted the help of the Professional Rugby Players' Association (PRA), who will email all of their members a questionnaire. Players are encouraged to disclose any information on improper behaviour without fear of reprisal, aside from cases involving illegal drug use.

The PRA email will be followed by one from the RFU and Premier Rugby to coaches, who will be asked to offer information on the same terms.

Current or previous employees of any Premiership or Championship club will also be offered the opportunity to meet with two or three members of the group should they choose to. The task-force will then release a statement on September 30, detailing some "clear and unequivocal findings and recommendations for the game".

"We had a very productive and useful meeting and share a collective responsibility to eliminate cheating from the game," said Owen. "We are all committed to drawing a line under the past and restoring the good image of the game.

"It was clear from our discussions that to achieve what we need to do in such a short timeframe establishing the game's trust in the group will be crucial. To achieve that all dialogue inside the group and with the group must remain entirely confidential.

"For this reason this will be the final public statement from the group until the publication of its final recommendations on 30th September. It is vital that the game understands that if they talk to us they will be heard and those discussions will not be disclosed."

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