The New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have recently become aware of a scam targeting rugby players and clubs in Australia, which could easily be replicated here in New Zealand.
Broadly speaking, the scam worked as follows:
• A person claimed to be an agent of a well-known Japanese club (Agent X);
• Agent X approached the coach of an Australian club saying that the Japanese club was interested in signing one of its star players;
• Agent X provided a draft contract to the Australian coach;
• In that draft contract a “deposit” of several thousand dollars was requested from the player to reserve his contract spot.

Fortunately for the player, before any deposit was paid, his coach sent the contract to a sports agent to run their eye over it as a precaution. The sports agent, having dealt with the Japanese club previously, noticed that the contract wasn’t the Japanese club’s standard form contract and contacted them directly to confirm.

The Japanese club had no knowledge whatsoever of the proposed contract or the player, and are currently exploring what their next step might be to catch Agent X and any other people who might be involved. The story acts as a timely reminder that there are some unscrupulous people in the world and that rugby is not immune to scam artists and tricksters who can easily adapt a common ruse to fit the rugby landscape. If anyone is contacted by an unknown agent purporting to represent an overseas club, or player for that matter, caution should be exercised until that persons credentials and legitimacy can be verified.  

The NZRPA recognises the important role played by those who provide individual contract or management representation and believes the interests of professional players are enhanced by maintaining standards of knowledge, integrity, competence and professionalism. The purpose of the NZRPA Agents Charter is to facilitate access to such advice and support in a manner which the NZRPA believes protects the interests of players and is fair and reasonable to those wishing to provide such services. A copy of the NZRPA Agents Charter and a list of Accredited Agents can be found at www.nzrpa.co.nz.