England Rugby Team Imposes Mobile Phone Ban During World Cup Matchdays

  • Ban is self-imposed after allegations emerged during previous Rugby World Cup in 2015
  • England's assistant coach confirms rules on gambling are “very clear”
  • Announcement follows Welsh attack coach, Rob Howley, being sent home over betting allegations
Closeup of a rugby player placing a ball down on the pitch.
Preempting potentials problems, the England rugby team have self-imposed a mobile phone ban during Rugby World Cup matchdays. [Image: Shutterstock]

Policy change

The England rugby team, including those in wider support roles, have been told “no phones allowed” during matchdays throughout the World Cup.

Ahead of the tournament kicking off on Friday in Japan, England have enacted the phone ban after a coach on the Welsh team was sent home following gambling misconduct.

All 20 teams taking part in the tournament are now on high alert. The dangers of gambling have always been something acknowledged by the English team in particular.

enacted the phone ban after a coach on the Welsh team was sent home

Earlier in the week, the England squad were given a 20-minute presentation on former Leicester defense coach Phil Blake. He was given a six-month ban in 2014 for breaching betting rules laid down by the Rugby Football Union.

Suspicion emerged

Regardless, the World Cup’s integrity unit has reportedly briefed the team again. The unit spoke about how suspicion emerged from the last World Cup tournament in 2015, which was hosted by England.

A total of six incidents were reported over gambling suspicions involving players or staff. This has led to England banning phones on matchdays to prevent team members being targeted for information.

With so much gambling awareness information being highlighted recently, the England team have spoken of their shock after hearing that Welsh attack coach Rob Howley is being investigated after being sent home from Japan.

Neal Hatley, the assistant coach for England said: “I was a little bit surprised but it’s all very clear, it’s made clear before we arrived and it was made clear two days ago. It’s a real [warning] for everyone at the tournament. A real live reminder.”

Made to sign documents

According to the coach, all of those involved with the team have been made to sign a document to say that the information has been understood. After the meeting, Hatley added:

We just talked about the regulations. What they are and what is expected and what is not accepted. It couldn’t be any clearer for us as a group.”

This act of documenting a player’s understanding of the potential threats through gambling is also used in cricket matches against any potential spot-fixing.

On international match days, players are required to hand their phones over before play starts. They are then returned at the end of the match.

First match on Sunday

England’s first match is against Tonga on Sunday, and despite being the odds-on favorite, Eddie Jones’ team aren’t taking any chances.

The head coach has spoken about the potential threat posed by the Pacific Islanders. He said: “They come here and play for their country. They are a completely different team at a World Cup than between World Cups because it is the one time they get together for a period of time.”

Tonga last played against New Zealand earlier this month. The All Blacks thrashed the Sea Eagles 92-7, scoring a total of 14 tries along the way.