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RFU reveals 141 misconduct cases involving children

The Rugby Football Union's safeguarding team dealt with 141 cases involving interactions between adults and children in 2015-16.

Some of the cases concerned "serious harmful sexual behaviour", although a spokesperson for the RFU told the Guardian those were of a "very small number" and most the of the cases were to do with abusive language or allegations of bullying.

The number of cases looked at by the safeguarding team was revealed in notes from the RFU council meeting of October 14, which were published on the Somerset RFU website.

It said: " The safeguarding team dealt with 141 cases relating to interactions between adults and children in 2015/16. These range in seriousness from serious harmful sexual behaviour to poor practice."

An RFU spokesperson told the Guardian: "Typically, we deal with around 140 incidents per year, of which a very small number relate to allegations concerning sexual incidents within rugby."

The meeting notes also revealed that during the same period the safeguarding team made 13,725 Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Allegations of historical child sex abuse have rocked football, with the National Police Chiefs' Council revealing last week that 83 potential suspects and 98 clubs have been identified in connection with claims.

A number of f ormer footballers have waived their right to anonymity to speak about their experiences.

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said in the Guardian: " The scale in football is shocking because every offence of this kind is distressing and distasteful, something you need to discourage.

"It comes down to openness and accessibility and we have we got a system and process that is open for people bringing their concerns to us, as we should. I hope nobody would be discouraged from bringing those forward - quite the opposite - then we will deal with them in the appropriate, professional manner."

Ritchie added that, since the abuse allegations in football came to light, the RFU had looked into whether there were any historical allegations it needed to address, but found none.

He said: "It is the classic what don't you know over a 30-year period. We have been looking whether there is anything there, but nothing has come up that I have been made aware of, or historical incidents that have not been investigated.

"It is a societal thing. You do as much as you can to prevent it happening and we are rigorous if we know something is happening to make sure it is investigated fully, and that primarily moves into a matter for the police. We pass everything on we have."

Ritchie added to BBC Sport: " There are cases that have happened in rugby historically and when you look at the number of children playing there's a certain sad inevitability that there's going to be these instances.

"We do 13,000 record checks a year, there are hundreds of thousands of children playing rugby, we have a substantial safeguarding unit which has former police officers in it. It's an ongoing challenge."

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