English Rugby
Johnson - Cheating is 'human nature'
October 23, 2009
England manager Martin Johnson speaks to the media, Six Nations Championship Launch, Hurlingham Club, London, England, January 28, 2008
Martin Johnson has spoken out about the factors that lead to incidents like 'Bloodgate' © Getty Images
Related Links
Players/Officials: Martin Johnson | Dean Richards
Tournaments/Tours: Guinness Premiership
Teams: England | Harlequins

Martin Johnson has waded into the debate about cheating in modern rugby by saying that it is "human nature" for players and coaches to push the boundaries.

Speaking to the Global Sports Summit in London, the England team manager said that the infamous 'Bloodgate' scandal that hogged the headlines over the summer was an inevitable consequence of the need to win.

Johnson's former team-mate Dean Richards is serving a three-year worldwide coaching ban after ordering Tom Williams to fake a blood injury during Harlequins' Heineken Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster at the Twickenham Stoop.

But the 2003 World Cup-winning captain does not believe that professionalism is the root cause of any increase in foul play or unsportsmanlike behaviour.

"How did we get there with the faking of the blood injury and Harlequins and Dean (Richards)?" he asked. "The good thing is that it has been dealt with and things have been put in to clean that area of the game up. You get to a situation where the law gets abused slightly and people get away with it and they do it a little bit more and a little bit more.

"The pressure is always there and that's self-induced and people want to be competitive - 'are my competitors doing it and getting away with it?' Maybe we'll push the boundaries that little bit more. You have referees on the field for a reason, because people will try and push things further - that's human nature."

But Johnson says the desire to win predates professionalism and hinted that such activities were just as likely to happen in the amateur era.

"We all live in a competitive world and whether money is involved or not, it's the will to win. Did things happen like that when rugby was amateur? Of course it did."

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