The rugby world is embroiled in a scandal so significant that the image of the game may never recover.
Details have come to light of an apparent agreement between the unions of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia to occasionally 'go easy' against northern hemisphere teams to allow the illusion of genuine competition in international rugby.
The supposed pact is alleged to have been in place since the game went professional in 1995 and the southern superpowers realised that if they consistently played to their full ability fans and sponsors would desert the game in droves as the likes of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were repeatedly put to the sword.
If the claims turn out to be true it will mean that countless famous moments in the game's history, treasured by millions of fans, will be tarnished by the fact that games were essentially thrown by the losing side. Most of all, England's famous 2003 World Cup win will be seen as nothing but a charitable gesture from superior foes to a lesser enemy.
The allegations have been made by a former Australian player who has promised to make his identity public once he has been granted immunity by the International Rugby Board from any form of prosecution or legal action. The source has promised to name names and provide documented evidence to prove his statements.
"Think about it," said the source, who agreed to meet this publication in a quiet Sydney bar out of the public gaze. "Do you honestly believe Scotland would ever beat Australia or South Africa if we weren't going a little easy on them? Anyone who doubts the validity of my claim needs only look at the record books. Scotland have beaten the Wallabies twice in recent years. I mean, come on. If that doesn't get you thinking then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you."
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