Sharks confirm Arscott suspension amid alleged Bristol leak

Updated: 

Sale Sharks have confirmed Tom Arscott has been suspended since January 4 amid an investigation into claims he passed information to Bristol, who have vehemently denied any wrongdoing. 

On New Year's Day, Sharks gave up a 15-0 lead to lose 24-23 at home to a Bristol squad containing Luke Arscott, the brother of former Bristol player Tom. Luke was an unused replacement that day at AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, while Tom was not in the Sale matchday squad. 

In a statement released on Monday, Bristol stated they have "been made aware of a complaint from Sale Sharks, which is now being investigated by the RFU [Rugby Football Union]".

The statement continued: "The club are absolutely confident of no wrongdoing in this matter and will fully co-operate with the investigation."

Sharks have now revealed the controversy became public knowledge only after they notified the RFU of their work to address the issue. 

"We've investigated it internally," Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond said in an interview broadcast by the BBC.

"We reported yesterday [Monday] and the RFU announced it. 

"It's now in the hands of the RFU. He's [Tom] suspended. When we get the date for the hearing, we'll have a disciplinary with the lad. But until then we can't say anything either way. 

"Team information is sacrosanct to the team's performance. That can't be discussed with opposition teams. That's the top and bottom of it.

"The squad have come to me with the problem. I knew nothing about it. And I reacted to that, senior players coming to me."

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Bristol's acting head coach Mark Tainton insisted there was no wrongdoing from either brother and denied the club had acted improperly.

He said: "Tom Arscott and Luke Arscott met on New Year's Eve at the team hotel, which is not unusual.

"However, following the conversation between the brothers, nothing was said or passed to the Bristol coaches of any sporting value, nor did it change the strategy in which we approached the game in any way, shape or form.

"As a club, we are entirely confident that we have not acted in a way that is against the spirit and values of rugby."