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It's in the stands, all over sponsorship and still a big part of team bonding - Rugby's battle with booze

Alan Quinlan


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The Heineken Champions Cup is one of many competitions sponsored by an alcohol company. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The Heineken Champions Cup is one of many competitions sponsored by an alcohol company. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

The Heineken Champions Cup is one of many competitions sponsored by an alcohol company. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Rightly or wrongly, alcohol is taped around rugby’s wrists in an unbreakable bind, fixed to the game’s culture as securely as the All Blacks, Six Nations and the Warwickshire town that lent the sport its name.

Booze is everywhere – 360 degrees of sponsorship, a congratulatory crate left in the middle of a dressing-room floor, the constant game-day availability for supporters, team-bonding exercises . . . the list goes on. It’s nothing new, but it’s a complex relationship that deserves our attention.

It’s rare that a season passes without some alcohol-related scandal, the advances of technology giving almost everyone the tools to break stories about the game’s star players.