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University expert is appointed by RFU to tackle discrimination issues within rugby

A University of Gloucestershire expert in ethical issues within sport has been appointed to a newly created Rugby Football Union (RFU) panel aimed at tackling discriminatory behaviour.

Dr Emily Ryall, Reader in Applied Philosophy within the University’s School of Social, Natural and Sports Sciences, is among 11 independent members who will sit on the RFU’s Inclusion and Diversity Disciplinary Panel.

Dr Ryall, who currently sits on the Gloucestershire RFU disciplinary panel, has undertaken extensive research around issues related to ethics and good governance in sport, publishing papers entitled ‘Dispute resolution, legal reasoning and good governance in sport’, ‘Ethical issues in coaching dangerous sport’, and ‘What’s the real problem with doping?’.

The new RFU panel, comprising panellists from both inside and outside the game, will hear all disciplinary cases relating to on and off-field rugby matters that involve an allegation of discriminatory behaviour.

The body has been formed as part of the Inclusion and Diversity action plan published by the RFU, Premiership Rugby, Premier 15s and the Rugby Players Association following revelations last summer by rugby player Luther Burrell about his experiences of racism and classism.

Dr Ryall said: “I am very pleased to be appointed to this new panel which is part of a larger plan from the RFU to deal with some longstanding issues related to inclusion and diversity in the game.

“This panel will work on a quasi-legal basis to demonstrate that allegations related to discriminatory behaviour in rugby will be appropriately investigated.

“I have been involved in rugby for many years and am passionate about the game, but it is important that it is seen as a sport that is open and welcoming for everyone. I am glad that I’m able to offer my expertise to help this process.”