|Matt Stevens (Photo From ESPN Scrum)|
|HSBC Lions Shirt|
So how is the IRB going to deal with one of it's main sponsors, HSBC, who are being fined $1.9 billion in the USA for laundering drug cartel money from Mexico? How can the values of a game like Rugby Union align with a company that profits from the sale of cocaine particularly when those profits are being injected into the game (no pun intended) as sponsorship funding. How can you ban a player for two years on one hand and then accept money that comes from the people who sell the drug they took? In my head the conversation would go a little like this: "Look Matt you're banned from rugby for two years but thanks to the money you and your mates spunked on coke we can expand the world series!" For those not aware HSBC are the main sponsors of the IRB Sevens World Series. Sevens has recently been included in the Olympics for 2016 and I'm fairly certain the IOC take a fairly dim view of drug taking. Even more high profile HSBC are also the sponsors for the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and again I'm not sure the values of the Lions are akin to a money launderer.
So what should the IRB do? In my opinion they just need to read their own core values. If this was a player or coach then they would immediately take action to protect the integrity of the sport. Rugby quite rightly sets its stall out as having a moral core compared to certain other sports. It needs to treat this sponsor in the same way it would treat anyone else bringing the game into disrepute and lets be honest the PR value for a new sponsor stepping in to replace HSBC would make it even more attractive to companies and potentially more lucrative for the sport itself.