The RFU Management Board established the Core Values Task Group in 2007 to evaluate what the game stood for and what it should represent in the future.
The group, chaired by RFU Past President Bob Rogers, was set up in response to a perception that standards of behaviour were changing as more people became involved in rugby.
Examples included parents shouting and acting aggressively towards referees and opponents; the hostile behaviour of some spectators at elite matches; and players adopting a less respectful attitude towards match officials.
The group’s terms of reference were to determine the behaviours and define the core values that shape the ethos and culture of the game; to determine the factors and behaviours that undermine those core values; to determine strategies that will promote and monitor the defined core values and how they should be presented; and to review existing codes of conduct for all participants and see how they could be extended to the whole game.
Consulting all parts of the game
The task group undertook a major consultation exercise, examining oral and written evidence as well as existing research. A broad range of people – including elite and amateur players, spectators and the media – were engaged in 13 focus groups and 2,722 took part in an online survey.
As a result, the core values were defined as teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship and the group commented in their interim report: “The game has, through its values, a uniting force. It helps to build characters. The social aspects of the game must not be understated and these have great benefits for local communities and society in general. The game is a way of life.”
The group also concluded: “There is little doubt that maintenance and promotion of the core values will increase the attractiveness of the sport to new participants. Positive strategies will need to be developed to promote these unique values.”
Rogers said: “We have a healthy, enjoyable and inclusive sport and wanted to have a simple reminder of that for all participants. It’s good news.
“The vast majority of people we've spoken to are totally supportive of those values and very pleased that we've defined them.
“It was important that we produced a positive statement of our core values. We believe we’ve done that and I'm sure people will want to live up to them.”
RFU Core Values Task Group:
Bob Rogers (RFU Past President, Chairman), John Douglas (RFU Council Member), Nathan Martin (RFU Elite Rugby General Manager), Patricia Mowbray (RFU Corporate Publications Manager), Andrew Scoular (RFU Community Rugby Director), Tim Stirk (RFU Council Member), Karena Vleck (RFU Legal Officer).