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'It is financially prudent' - RFU

The Rugby Football Union has described as "financially prudent" its insurance move to hedge its risk on England being successful at this year's World Cup.

A report in Thursday's Guardian claims the RFU have placed bets totalling around £250,000 via a consortium of bookmakers to cover player and management win bonuses should England be successful in New Zealand during September and October.

In doing so, the RFU has not broken any International Rugby Board rules as it is not betting, but rather paying a premium to a broker who guarantees a return on its investment if they are successful.

The Guardian says if the RFU were to cover estimated potential win bonuses of £2.25 million, current England odds would require a premium of just under £250,000, although it is understood any total win bonus package would not be as high as £2.25m.

England have reached the last two World Cup finals, winning the tournament under Martin Johnson's captaincy in 2003 and then finishing runners-up to South Africa four years later.

This time, if they top their qualifying pool, England's likely quarter-final opponents would be France, and then Australia in the semi-finals. They beat both those countries on their way to the 2007 final.

An RFU spokesman said: "I am sure that we, as a professional and responsible sports governing body, are not alone in ensuring we minimise our financial risks at all times, including around tournaments such as the Rugby World Cup.

"We are not directly placing money with bookmakers, but rather hedging our risk with an insurance broker. It is financially prudent so that we can continue our investment in the grassroots of the sport, which last year totalled more than £21 million.

"The details of any such arrangement are confidential."

The newspaper claims the RFU would start to receive a return if England secure semi-final status.

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