• Education at Age Grade events key to Keep Rugby Clean campaign
• Blitzbokke Sevens Star Cecil Afrika shows support in Cape Town
• Players, officials, management and tournament staff all involved
South Africa Sevens star and IRB Keep Rugby Clean Ambassador Cecil Afrika has joined the future stars of Rugby at the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 in Cape Town today to help drive the IRB campaign to ensure a drug-free sport.
Afrika is one of eight Keep Rugby Clean Ambassadors, along with fellow South African Bryan Habana, and he will attend the thrilling climax of the pool phase today which has also been designated Keep Rugby Clean Day across both venues.
Speaking at Cape Town Stadium on match day three of the most competitive tournament to date, Afrika said: “I am very happy to be here and help the next generation of world Rugby stars stay drug-free, while sending a very clear message to everyone in the sport that there is no place for drugs or drug cheats in Rugby.”
“These Under 20 players will benefit from IRB Anti-Doping education and awareness training as part of the tournament and as a Keep Rugby Clean Ambassador I am proud to help spread the message of zero-tolerance to drugs throughout the Game.”
David Pocock and Sam Warburton, who captained Australia and Wales respectively at JWC 2008, are the latest stars to pledge their support to ensuring a level playing field for Rugby by becoming Keep Rugby Clean Ambassadors this week.
As part of the IRB’s outreach Anti-Doping education programme run in association with the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA), the 336 players at JWC 2012 will benefit from a team-based education session with an IRB Anti-Doping officer explaining the dangers of doping, run in conjunction with a tournament-wide In Competition and Out of Competition testing programme.
IRB Anti-Doping Manager Tim Ricketts, also in Cape Town for the campaign, said: “The IRB Junior World Championship plays a key role in preparing aspiring stars of the Game for the rigours of Test Rugby and Anti-Doping education is an essential element in that process.”
“Players need to understand from an early age the dangers and consequences of doping, the pitfalls concerning supplement use and how to maintain a healthy and clean approach to sports nutrition and Keep Rugby Clean Day helps promote those values.”
The IRB operates a zero-tolerance policy to drug cheats in sport and operated a record testing and education programme in 2011, including at Rugby World Cup.
With Rugby’s continued expansion and participation numbers at unprecedented levels, the IRB undertook 1,714 tests (587 In Competition and 1,127 Out of Competition) across Fifteens and Sevens in every continent last year, and implemented a record blood testing programme at the flagship Rugby World Cup.
The testing programme operated across Rugby World Cup 2011 (989 tests), Rugby Sevens (489 tests), Age Grade (138 tests), other IRB Fifteens tournaments (58) and regional championships (40 tests).
Rodney Swiggerlar, WADA Regional Director for Africa, said: “The IRB’s Keep Rugby Clean campaign has been hugely successful in promoting and educating young Rugby players on the importance of remaining healthy and drug free, and taking control of their own knowledge, education and requirements.
“I have been very impressed to see the campaign develop into the fully interactive, player-friendly service it now provides, having attended the IRB’s first outreach programme in Durban during the IRB Under 19 Championship in 2004. We look forward to continuing the good work in the region as part of the ongoing legacy of JWC 2012.”
Keep Rugby Clean Ambassadors represent all areas of the Game, including Women’s Rugby and Sevens, with Felipe Contepomi (Argentina), Bryan Habana (South Africa), Cecil Afrika (South Africa Sevens), Vincent Clerc (France), Carla Hohepa (New Zealand) and Heather Moyse (Canada) already an essential part of the education and outreach programme. David Pocock (Australia) and Sam Warburton (Wales) joined the campaign yesterday.