Spreading the Keep Rugby Clean message
By Chris Thau
To the surprise of the spectators attending the second round of matches at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2010 over the weekend, the teams running out onto the pitch for the warm ups were wearing identical t-shirts, rather than their traditional strips.
From the stands of the Fili and Slava Stadiums in Moscow, it was sometimes hard to distinguish between the Uruguay and Papua New Guinea players, or the hosts Russia from their Canadian counterparts for that matter.
The match-day had been chosen by organisers as Keep Rugby Clean Day, the visible end of a large scale educational programme run at all IRB Age Grade tournaments which involves seminars and a quiz on anti-doping.
Players, management, officials, ball-boys and administrators all wore the Keep Rugby Clean t-shirts to show their support for the International Rugby Board's campaign to keep doping out of the sport.
"It is my first time in the Under 20s tournament and I learned a lot about the fight against drugs in sport. It is a learning curve for all of us and I found the lectures very useful," explained Romania's Tudorel Bratu.
No place for doping in rugby
"I am pleased that Rugby is leading such an intense campaign against doping, because we want to play against each other not against chemical players."
Uruguay full back Andres Vilaseca echoed the sentiment: "I did not know many of the aspects they showed us at the seminar and I understand now about the list of banned substances and what to avoid in my playing career. Basically, there is no reason to use doping in Rugby, and this is the main message of the programme."
Liam Murray, the Canadian hooker, admitted the Keep Rugby Clean sessions had been an eye-opening experience.
"I thought it was good and an eye-opener for guys who are taking supplements to be cautious about what they're taking and to make sure they're checking with the manufacturer what's in the products.
"It's important for everyone to learn about and to be aware about what is on the market and in the sporting industry."
Reinforcing the message
For Papua New Guinea's Chris Namani it was his second experience of the Keep Rugby Clean, but nonetheless still very worthwhile to his rugby development.
"I was also in Kenya last year [for the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy] when I learnt about drugs for the first time and this year it just reminded me of the need to keep rugby clean. It is very good for all of us here."
Italian front rowers Leso Piermaria and Antonio Denti, who play with the Petrarca and Viadana clubs, both felt the entertaining format of the presentations made a big difference in getting the messages across to the players.
"It was a very interesting video, with animation which showed what you can do and what you can't. This is the first time I have seen that and it is very good for my education as a future professional player," admitted Piermaria.
Denti added: "I saw these presentations in Japan [at last year's IRB Junior World Championship] and I think it is very important for us, as future professional players. Thanks to the IRB for doing this for us."