We have it! The covert investigative report to shock the rugby world, if not the whole of sport! In early 2017, Christopher Steele was engaged to investigate European professional rugby. Using the same contacts and deep state intelligence that delivered the salacious and depressing details of the Russia-Trump collusion, Steele dug deep into the underbelly of 21st Century rugby union. His remit was to determine if professionalism had indeed led to widespread ethical transgressions.
We will release the most notable findings in parts, much as the equally shocking Pentagon Papers were published. Buckle up with some of the hard stuff nearby. You are going to need it. [Also, you know, an appreciation of satire, and the ability to discern Fake News.]
Part 1: England
For years, former England captain Chris Robshaw has received praise for his business interests outside rugby. Most notably, for rolling up his sleeves and throwing himself into the coffee business. He and old friend Kevin Latouf started their first coffee bar several years ago. With their initial success, Robshaw doubled down, expanding into the coffee roasting and retail market under the brand “6-1/2”. He began with two signature products, Captain’s Breakfast Blend, a medium-dark roast perfect for that first cup of the morning, and The Breakdown, a delicious light roast sourced exclusively from a Malaysian coffee plantation of which he is now a co-owner. The Breakdown has received plaudits from London coffee cognoscenti, with some of the hippest hotels offering it as their house selection for pour-overs.
Exclusive evidence has been found that the coffee plantation is a front for illegal smuggling of the rare Sunda Pangolin. Pangolins are among the most popular species in the illegal animal trade. Steele has yet to uncover whether Robshaw has been aware of or even party to the nefarious activities of his Malay partners.
Robshaw was unavailable for comment, but Latouf offered firm denials of any involvement in the pangolin smuggling. “Honestly, we had no idea. We are gutted to learn of this terrible activity, and are taking appropriate steps in Malaysia to cooperate with authorities,” Latouf shared. “Our hope is the illegal operations can be completely uncovered and brought to a halt. We are working with new local partners who we can trust to provide us with these wonderful coffee beans without the downside of illegal trade. I know I speak for Chris as well when I say we are disgusted. In response we will donate a share of future profits to stopping illegal trade in pangolins. Customers can help by following a new Pangolin-Safe Coffee Instagram page.”
The RFU have spoken in support of Robshaw, highlighting the former captain’s sterling reputation. “We know Chris and his associates will set things right,” according to one RFU spokesperson. “Chris demonstrates the highest integrity in everything he does. Eddie and the England leadership support Chris in everything he does, except for making decisions on whether to kick for goal or go for the corner with a test match on the line.”
Anonymous sources expect Robshaw to come through this latest episode with his career and reputation in tact. “Chris is a stand-up guy, he will fix this and continue to distinguish himself, on the pitch and off,” noted one rugby expert. “He will be only a little sheepish this information came to Steele through an environmental organization started by his Australia adversary David Pocock. This whole incident can serve to help other players understand the need to carefully vet any business partners.”