Tom Arscott given written warning over passing inside information to brother
Former Sale player Tom Arscott has received a written warning over the passing of inside information to his brother Luke before the Sharks' Aviva Premiership match at Bristol.
Tom Arscott was last month sacked by Sale after allegedly leaking information to Bristol player Luke in a meeting at the club's hotel on New Year's Eve - a day before the Sharks went down 24-23 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
It was alleged that Tom Arscott's conduct was in breach of Rugby Football Union regulation 17 (anti-corruption and betting), but the governing body, which on Monday announced it had concluded its investigation, found there was not "any evidence of betting or fixing".
The RFU said the information fell "at the lower end of the scale of seriousness", but deemed the player's behaviour "inappropriate".
The governing body said it interviewed 25 individuals from both clubs, following Sale's letter of complaint on January 17, and inquiries were made with various betting operators in order to determine whether there had been any breaches of any of its rules and regulations.
"Tom Arscott discussed tactical information with his brother Luke Arscott ahead of the match," an RFU statement read.
"This information related to Sale using some backs in their lineout on occasion and that another back would be defending in a different position at times.
"The RFU has determined that this information, while at the lower end of the scale of seriousness, falls within the definition of inside information (as per regulation 17.2).
"But in the absence of any evidence of betting or fixing, there had not been a breach of RFU regulation 17.
"However, the RFU has deemed that Tom Arscott's behaviour was inappropriate and the player has received a written warning for his conduct and he will be required to undertake a relevant World Rugby education module."
Arscott joined Sale from London Welsh in 2013 and is a former Bristol player.
Bristol insisted "nothing of any sporting value" was passed on to coaching staff and that they were "entirely confident" they had "not acted in a way that is against the spirit and values of rugby".
The RFU statement continued: "Information that was passed from Tom Arscott to Luke Arscott regarding the proposed defensive structure in the Sale back line was provided to two Bristol coaches.
"However, in the absence of any evidence of a suspicion of fixing/betting etc, the RFU has determined that Bristol did not fail to comply with the relevant reporting requirements in relation to the inside information that the club received.
"There was no evidence to demonstrate that Bristol changed any of their game strategy to deal with Sale's defensive positional changes."
Arscott said later on Monday that he was "disappointed" with the outcome, but now aimed to move on.
In a statement issued by the Rugby Players' Association, he said: "Following the conclusion of the RFU's investigation into the complaint made against me by Sale Sharks, I wish to state that, although I am disappointed with the outcome, I would now like to draw a line under this episode.
"This has been an extremely difficult period for me, my family and friends and I would like to thank all those who have supported me. I look forward to resuming my playing career as soon as possible."
Bristol head coach Mark Tainton was pleased to see an end to the saga as his club look to secure their Premiership status.
"We're glad that this matter has finally been put to bed," he said in a statement. "It's been of significant distraction to the coaches and playing squad during an important period of the season."
He added: "We draw a line under this now and focus on what is important: keeping this club in the top flight."
Neither Arscott brother played in the January 1 game, with Tom not included in Sale's 23-man squad and Luke an unused replacement in Bristol's.
RFU head of discipline Gerard McEvilly said: "In determining what action should be taken following the investigation, we have taken into account that Tom Arscott has already paid a heavy price for his conduct in having been dismissed from his employment by Sale Sharks.
"These issues have arisen because of the inappropriate sharing of information while players were socialising in the same hotel before the match.
"Therefore, the RFU is strongly recommending to both clubs that all their players are reminded of their contractual and ethical obligations to their employing clubs and of the problems that may arise should confidential/inside information be passed between individuals."