Assistant Coach Bets Against His Own Team As The RFL Fail To Protect The Game

I find very few things in this game completely outrageous. Maybe its the the way Rugby League throws up a yearly does of atrocities, it numbs you to certain types of news.

Every so often though I read about something so ridiculous and I can not believe the lack outrage it causes.

The BBC is reporting that Ex-Oldham assistant coach Mark Cass has been given a 12-month ban by the Rugby Football League for illegal betting.

Cass placed best on Rugby League matches over a two year span, including betting on ten games Oldham was involved in.

Cass placed bets against Oldham including one bet of £400 on Oldham to lose a match against Dewsbury by more than 18 points. They covered the spread and he got the cash.

Cass claimed he had put the bets on for a friend….

Now, that the RFL found out this was going on is great, well done to them. That he was eventually punished, fantastic.

I can not believe this person was not given a life ban from all levels of Rugby League in the UK. He deserves nothing less!

The Rugby Football League is in charge of many things, but above all else it is their job to protect the integrity of the game.

At its most basic level they do this in the form of rule enforcement. They dictate pitch size requirements, what shape of ball is, how many players are allowed on the field at any one time, basically its the reason why we have sporting organizations. They are there to stop a sporting contest descending into a farce because we have a centralized body that we all join and we play by their rules.

The integrity of the game, any game, is paramount.

When you have somebody in the game that is cheating, its terrible, and they have to be punished swiftly and be given a ban that is long enough to deter anyone else from ever cheating in the same way again.

When the Canterbury Bulldogs were found to be cheating by spending millions of dollars over the NRL salary cap in 2002, the club lost all its competition points. They were fined, they had a further suspended fine hanging over them and basically anyone involved in the decision to cheat was run out of the game.

On top of all that, its fair to say, the NRL, fans and the media kept their foot on the throat of the entire club for many years after that.

Now, that was cheating. That was going out and looking to gain an unfair performance advantage on the field of play.

What Cass did is on a whole other level.

For a coach to bet on games he is involved in… bet against his own team, I can not think of a worse betrayal of the players, the fans of the game in general.

He was only an assistant coach, but this is someone who holds an important role within the game. Someone who is trusted by players to do everything he can to help them get the best out of themselves. Someone who’s one goal should be to lift the overall performance of the club.

A coach betting against his own team is the ultimate betrayal of everything sport is about!

If this type of betrayal of the game can happen, if the games core values can be undermined to this degree, and all it amounts to is a 12 month suspension, then something is terribly wrong.

The nonnegotiable starting point for a ban should have been a life ban, from all levels, and any capacity in the game. No playing, no coaching, no training…..he should be black banned from the game all together.

Harsh….not at all.

This is someone who cares so little about the sport that he was willing to stab it in the back for a bit of extra cash. £400 is a decent sized bet, especially for a game between Oldham and Dewsbury. That was just one bet too…..there were plenty of others…..this guy made a lot of money doing this and you have to wonder what effect a coach who needs his team to lose by 18 or more points can have on his teams performance.

Its a slippery slope, and we all know what betting against your own team eventually leads too….

Back in 2004 I said that both Sean Long and Martin Gleeson.should have been banned for life for placing bets against their own team to lose a Eastern Monday game against the Bradford Bulls.

St Helens fielded a weakened team against Bradford in preparation for their Challenge Cup Semi Final against Huddersfield the following game. Long didn’t take part in the match…..Gleeson did.

They were each fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £2,205 costs. Long received just a three month ban, Gleeson got a four month ban.

These fines and suspensions were completely pathetic and no sort of deterrent to any other players, coaches or officials looking to place similar bets.

Now, six years on, and with about the greatest undermining of the games integrity at hand, the Rugby Football League have once against come up with a completely inadequate response to a matter that is as serious as it gets.

When the paying public starts to question the integrity of a match, that is it, game over. Knowing that players, coaches and officials can make many thousands of pounds by betting against themselves and potentially changing the result of a match….well, who wants to watch a sport that allows that.

This is going to come back and bite the Rugby Football League in the arse. They have dug their own grave with a ban that in now way shows the seriousness of this matter and does nothing to prevent it from happening again.

Every single fan of this great sport should be completely outraged that the people in charge of protecting our game have failed in their most basic duty.

Liked it? Take a second to support League Freak on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply