An RFU Disciplinary Panel has imposed a six-month suspension on Phil Blake after he was found guilty of two breaches (eight separate bets) of RFU Regulation 17 (Anti-Corruption and Betting) while he was employed by Leicester Tigers RFC as a defence coach for the 14/15 Aviva Premiership season.
The first charge related to betting on a European Champions Cup match between Toulon and Leicester Tigers on 13 December 2014 and the second for betting on an Aviva Premiership match between Newcastle Falcons and Leicester Tigers on 8 March 2015.
The panel (Christopher Quinlan QC, Daniel White, Gareth Graham) also imposed a fine of £669 (the profit made on the bets placed) and ordered Blake to pay costs of £500.
Christopher Quinlan QC, Chairman of the RFU Disciplinary Panel said: “This is the first such case that we know of in rugby union and is certainly the first brought under the relatively new Regulation 17 so this is new ground.
“In arriving at the appropriate sanction we have been careful to remind ourselves that we must not make an example of Phil Blake. We have imposed a sanction which we consider fair and proportionate to what he did, while having due regard to the proper consideration of deterrence.
“We have sought to strike a proper balance between the competing factors and arrive at a sanction we consider to be just. We must have regard to the wider interests of the game.
“It is important that those involved in the game and the wider public understand that any breach of the anti-corruption and betting regulations will and must be treated seriously.”
An appeal lodged by Phil Blake against the length of the sanction was dismissed with costs ordered in the sum of £500 by an RFU Appeal Panel chaired by Antony Davies with Gareth Rees QC and Tim Ward QC on Monday 22 June 2015.
Antony Davies said: "We find that the RFU Disciplinary Panel correctly applied its findings of fact arising from the evidence to the sanctioning process set out in the Regulations. We cannot find any fault with the Panel’s sanctioning process.
“The offending clearly merited an immediate period of suspension. Six months was, in our view, well within a reasonable range and was not so excessive as to be unreasonable."
The suspension began on 24 May and will end 24 November 2015.
To read the full written judgment click here.
Following the decision, Leicester Tigers have released the following statement:
"We acknowledge the decision of the disciplinary hearing in relation to the conduct of Phil Blake and the panel's views on betting within professional sport.
"The club also fully endorses the governing body's regard for the wider interests of the game in respect of any breaches of the anti-corruption and betting regulations.
"Phil Blake was under contract for the 2014/15 season and is no longer employed by Leicester Tigers. The club would, however, like to place on record, as it did during his time at Leicester, that he was a popular and valued member of the coaching team and we hope he is fully able to return to the game in a suitable capacity at the end of the period laid down by the disciplinary hearing.”
Leicester Tigers will be making no further comment on this matter.