New Zealand rugby launches anti-corruption drive

Wellington: The New Zealand Rugby Union launched a major anti-corruption drive Wednesday, demanding that thousands of top-level players and administrators sign a pledge to keep the game clean.

"We want rugby to remain an honest test of skill and ability. Our sport has a good record, but we can`t take it for granted," the union`s general manager Neil Sorensen said.

After a string of match-fixing and other corruption scandals in professional sports around the world, Sorensen said it was vital to protect rugby`s integrity and to keep reigning world champions New Zealand free of graft.

"We`ve seen international examples of the damage that corruption can do to sport and we don`t want to see that happen in rugby," Sorensen said.

"That`s why we`re reminding people involved in the game about keeping it free of corruption."

Around 2,000 players, coaches and managers involved in New Zealand rugby at a professional level are being asked to sign a pledge to abide by the new regulations.

All are banned from betting on rugby matches no matter where in the world they are played.

Regulations drawn up by New Zealand`s newly-formed rugby integrity unit also ban people involved in the sport from getting anyone else to bet on their behalf, fix or attempt to fix a match, or intentionally perform below their best for reward.

The maximum penalty for corruption is a life ban from the game.