London Broncos full-back Richie Mathers has been handed a six-month ban for breaching rugby league’s rules on betting ahead of a game against Leigh Centurions.
The 31-year-old, who is in his first season with London, was found guilty by a Rugby Football League independent tribunal of providing inside information on the Broncos’ Challenge Cup tie against Leigh on March 20, which they lost 64-12.
The former Leeds, Warrington and Wakefield player, whose suspension runs to January 28, did not play in that match after picking up an ankle injury earlier in the month.
A statement from the RFL said: “London Broncos player Richard Mathers has been suspended from all rugby league activity for six months after being found guilty of breaching the sport’s rules relating to betting.
“An independent tribunal found Mr Mathers guilty of providing inside information on his club’s playing strengths and pre-match preparations, and of encouraging other people to bet on the outcome of a match using the social media messaging application, Whatsapp.”
The RFL added that, in handing down its decision, the tribunal took into account Mathers’ good character, the fact that he did not place any bets himself or profit from his position and the impact the offence has had on his career.
Mathers made 249 appearances in Super League with home-town club Leeds, Wigan, Warrington, Castleford and Wakefield, from 2002-14 before joining the relegated Broncos on a two-year deal at the end of last season.
He also had a brief spell with Gold Coast Titans in the NRL in 2007.
London Broncos issued the same statement, adding they will be making no further comment at the current time.