England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) has joined forces with international sports betting integrity body ESSA to protect its competitions from the threat of match-fixing.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two parties, ESSA will use its monitoring and alert system to detect suspicious betting patterns on RFU matches across its members’ regulated betting markets.

“No one can or should be complacent in the face of criminal elements intent on corrupting any sport to defraud betting companies. ESSA therefore welcomes the continuing proactive approach of the RFU and the formation of this alliance,” said ESSA secretary general Khalid Ali.

“The RFU is among a group of sports bodies that have made important and effective strides in this area and ESSA remains committed to working in partnership with those responsible organisations.”

RFU legal and governance director Angus Bujalski commented: “While no instances of betting related match-fixing have to date been identified in English rugby union we need to continue to be vigilant.

“We have already put in place a range of measures to raise awareness and to set clear rules to maintain the integrity of the game. This MoU is another important milestone in that process and complements our existing work. English rugby has so far been free of betting related match-fixing and we are working hard with our partners such as ESSA to ensure that it remains that way.”