Two English players handed three-and-a-half year bans

Rugby Union players Joseph Stafford and Rupert Kay have been banned from all sport, following the commission of two separate Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs). Joseph Stafford has been banned for three and a half years for Evading Sample Collection, while Rupert Kay has been banned for two years for Complicity.

This case was charged by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), and the independent National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) approved the final agreements reached between the players and the RFU.

On 21 February 2019, Mr Stafford was selected for Out-of-Competition testing at the Hull RUFC training ground. In order to avoid being tested, he asked his teammate, Mr Kay to help him leave the training ground. Mr Kay agreed to help Mr Stafford avoid testing and drove him away from the training ground.

Pat Myhill, UK Anti-Doping Director of Operations said: “Committing an anti-doping rule violation is not just about providing a positive test result. By avoiding testing and helping somebody in your team to do so, you are not just compromising the integrity of your sport but also breaching anti-doping rules. These offences are just as serious as failing a test for a banned substance.

“It’s important you are fully aware of the consequences of ‘not doing’ something – whether that’s not checking medications, not managing supplement risks, or in this case, not taking or refusing to take a test. All of these can lead to a ban from sport, so it’s important athletes and athlete support personnel are fully aware of all ten anti-doping rule violations and the consequences of breaching them.”

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LIST | 5 England players who could swap nations for 2023 World Cup

Sir Bill Beaumont has hit back in the World Rugby election race and revealed he wants to create a law change that would allow Manu Tuilagi and other England stars to end their Test career playing for other nations.

The former England captain raised the possibility in his re-election manifesto ahead of next month’s contest with former Argentina scrum-half Agustin Pichot.

In it he promises a review of Regulation 8 which covers eligibility to play for national teams “to see how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers”.

Based on this, we’ve looked at some other current England stars who could head to the 2023 Rugby World Cup to represent other nations.

We’ve not included Billy Vunipola, as we think he is likely to be still in the reckoning for England in three years time.

1. Manu Tuilagi (Samoa)

  • Current number of caps: 41
  • Age at the start of RWC 2023: 32
  • Did you know:  He was named Manusamoa, after the name of the Samoan national team

The England centre, who was born in Fogapoa and came to the UK at the age of 13, is one of a clutch of Pacific Island players whose eligibility status could change if the restrictions are relaxed. He is the younger brother of Freddie, Henry, Alesana, Anitelea and Sanele Vavae Tuilagi, all of whom are Samoan internationals and also played for Leicester. It would be fantastic for the powerhouse to complete the set.

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