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Bloodgate brings Deano down

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Simon Austin | 15:15 UK time, Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Some people have cast Dean Richards as the scapegoat after Harlequins' director of rugby took most of the punishment following the "Bloodgate scandal".

Richards, one of the legends of English rugby, was banned from coaching for three years after accepting responsibility for Tom Williams' fake blood injury against Leinster in April.

Former England team-mate Will Carling said Richards was taking the rap for a problem that is rife in the game.

"I am slightly shocked by the hysteria, because people think this is new and has never happened before," Carling told the BBC.

Tom Williams leaves the field with "I would hate it if one guy was hung out to dry while everyone walks away from it and sticks their head in the sand. Let's not leave Dean Richards as a scapegoat."

It's hard to believe this was the first time a team had faked a blood injury to abuse IRB law 3.12, which allows a substitute to replace a player with "a bleeding or open wound".

Eight years ago, former Harlequins director of rugby Dick Best warned: "They (blood capsules) are in common use in the Premiership. I believe they are the same as you'd find on the set of any film with stunt scenes."

His allegations were backed up by Nigel Melville, then director of rugby at Wasps, and Australia's World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer.

In his autobiography, Lawrence Dallaglio described how Bath had once used tomato ketchup to get John Callard back onto the field for a conversion attempt against Wasps, while Richard Cockerill revealed in his book "In Your Face" that stitches on his finger had been opened up by England's backroom staff "to take me off for 'blood' just in case it was necessary to bring me back on".

So Best is surprised nothing has been done to stop teams faking blood injuries, adding: "It is still pretty common practice within the game, I understand".

Privately, senior figures at Harlequins argue the problem is "widespread" within the English game and chief executive Mark Evans alluded to abuse of the rules in an open letter to the club's fans last week.

"Some of you will feel that manipulation of the substitution, uncontested scrums and sin binning rules are so widespread in the game that this case has been blown out of all proportion," he wrote.

Yet any sympathy for the plight of either Quins or Richards dissipates when you consider the way they tried to cover up the incident.

In his witness statement to Monday's appeal hearing, Williams revealed his mouth
had been cut with a scalpel to make it look like he had suffered an injury.

In his club blog, Quins and England scrum-half Danny Care then wrote: "I can assure you I saw a big cut in Tom's mouth which needed stitches after the match, so the suggestion the injury was faked is ludicrous."

Harlequins then failed to come clean at the initial disciplinary hearing in July, denying any allegations of foul play. And they were indignant about the £215,000 suspended fine they received, complaining: "We are both surprised and disappointed... the club will consider their position."

European Rugby Cup Ltd did not have sufficient evidence to penalise either Richards, physio Steph Brennan or doctor Wendy Chapman, so Williams was left to carry the can.

Sky footage - which had not been broadcast but was shown at the hearing - showed the 25-year-old taking a capsule out of his sock before bursting it in his mouth in the 75th minute of the Heineken Cup quarter-final.

Live match footage had also shown him leaving the pitch with a red liquid, which didn't look like blood, streaming from his mouth, before infamously winking to his replacement, the fly-half Nick Evans.

The ERC panel gave Williams a draconian 12-month penalty, even though they were sure he had not acted alone. This was a clever move, because it forced the winger to flush out his co-conspirators.

With the support and encouragement of the players' union, the Professional Rugby Players' Association, he appealed against his suspension and vowed to come clean about what had happened at The Stoop.

Richards quickly realised his position had become untenable and resigned on 8 August, while Harlequins were hastily forced into a change of approach. Suddenly they became contrite, pleading not to be thrown out of the Heineken Cup.

"We have got to accept that we have been found guilty of behaviour that cannot be accepted or condoned," Evans wrote to the Quins fans in his open letter. "For that we apologise to you unconditionally."

If Quins and Richards had come clean at the initial hearing, and revealed that their misdemeanour was part of a more institutional problem in the game, the penalties they received would have been more lenient. And their reputations might not have been damaged so much.

So what now for Richards? His ban from coaching in Europe has been extended to all competitions by the RFU.

There is speculation he might still be able to take up a director of rugby role, perhaps in France, because the ban refers only to "coaching". Anyone who has seen Richards at work will know that he doesn't do a lot of coaching, preferring instead taking an overseeing role at training.

The club itself felt the fine of £259,000 was "very significant" but they are privately relieved not to have been thrown out of the Heineken Cup, which they had estimated would have cost £1.5m, or 15% of their annual revenue.

And there is hope the whole episode could help eradicate some of the cheating that Best and Carling claim is so prevalent in the game. The RFU is planning to bring forward a meeting with the Premiership club owners, scheduled for September, to discuss how they should do this.

Then the English game might recover some of the credibility lost during "Bloodgate".

* For more up-to-the-minute chat, you can follow me on my Twitter feed


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  • 1. At 4:48pm on 18 Aug 2009, xpat73 wrote:

    Three years for a blood capsule and 8 weeks for a deliberate eye gouge?

    Is there any sense of rationality or proportion in these sentences?????

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  • 2. At 4:55pm on 18 Aug 2009, Inherent wrote:

    of course it's got to be worldwide;it's the International r.b.

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  • 3. At 4:57pm on 18 Aug 2009, Mogg42 wrote:

    Gouging whilst despicable happens in the heat of the moment. Taking a blood capsule onto the pitch shows some malice aforethought.

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  • 4. At 4:58pm on 18 Aug 2009, EgmonderDuke wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 5. At 4:58pm on 18 Aug 2009, PastJunction49-M4 wrote:

    Ditto. 8 weeks for a gouge and 12 months, reduced to 4, for what was an action by the player that hurt no one.

    It's all very sad. I wander if they'll actually do something about this now by changing some laws... independent medics at each match would be a good start.

    I hope that they do something about the front-row replacement situation too. It's just not on that you can replace a prop with another non-front row player, stating that you have no cover on your bench and thus reducing the game to uncontested scrums. This gives some teams a significant advantage as they can often bring a back-row forward or big three-quarter on, which ultimately speeds up open play and makes the match more like a Rugby League match.

    No hard feelings here... but it could be said the Bakkies Botha identified Adam Jones as a target in the second Lions match and just took him out, thus reducing the game to uncontested scrums and thus handing South Africa the upper-hand which they didn't have when scrums were contested.

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  • 6. At 5:00pm on 18 Aug 2009, Brian Golden wrote:

    Spot on Austin.

    Even if this is commonplace, how Harlequins acted is crucial to the punishment.

    The Leinster doctor was "prevented" from entering the treatment room, the cover-up was only dropped when there was no way out and there was evidence of many repeat offences.

    And just imagine the chaos and damage to the game if Evans had planted his kick and knocked Leinster out of the competition?

    Now the rugby administrators have shown they are capable of dishing out punishments, however, what about tackling eye gouging and spear tackles before someone is seriously injured?

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  • 7. At 5:04pm on 18 Aug 2009, TomSimp wrote:

    The fact that Burger got off lightly has no bearing on Richards' case. He has been caught in an act of blatant cheating that hopefully will act as a deterrent to others. If there cheating had succeeded we would have been denied what must have been one if not two of the greatest ever Heineken Cup matches. Even in his statement after the ban, he seemed more bothered that the cheating had not had the desired result. Good riddance - the game can do without this and all the other petty and more serious cheating that goes on.

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  • 8. At 5:05pm on 18 Aug 2009, StandUlstermen wrote:

    Considering that this piece of cheating could have changed the destiny of the Heineken Cup last season, i have little sympathy for those involved. My sympathies lie with genuine Quins fans who have been let down badly. Richards in my opinion should not be allowed to coach again. Arguing against the ban on the basis that other players have gotten light sentences for completely uncomparable infractions is ridiculous.

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  • 9. At 5:06pm on 18 Aug 2009, Cotswold_Ger wrote:

    Can we finally lay the myth that professional Rugby Union is in any way morally superior Football when it comes to gamesmanship and player behaviour.

    Blood capsules, gouging, drugs etc etc. Deary me.

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  • 10. At 5:06pm on 18 Aug 2009, rugbypat wrote:

    I think xpat73 misses the point. Its the pathetic nature of the offence that is so dismaying. I suspect he's a Quins supporter. Of course eye gouging should be more harshly dealt with, but this pre-meditated stage managing is in a different realm. Richards should get a life ban and Quins should be relegated or disbanded.

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  • 11. At 5:06pm on 18 Aug 2009, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Footballers dive and fake injury several times a game. Sometimes having a man sent off and seriously effecting the result. The most severe punishment is a yellow card but many see it as an important part of gamesmanship.

    Where do you draw the line with deception?

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  • 12. At 5:08pm on 18 Aug 2009, Candyman wrote:

    Neil Back said: 'I am upset, I am disappointed and I am surprised at what has happened with Deano.'

    I do hope Neil Back isn't defending cheating, it's so out of character for him :-)

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  • 13. At 5:08pm on 18 Aug 2009, paul camilleri wrote:

    It's interesting how the rugby world seem to be taking a stance of "it's only cheating, what's the big issue"; I think it's great that the autorities have tried to clean up the sport.
    If this blood rule is misused so frequently maybe this will force the teams to stop it, clearly no one involved in the sport seems to think it's wrong to cheat so they have to be forced into it. Maybe similar examples can be set to those who think eye gouging or stamping is just part of the game.

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  • 14. At 5:11pm on 18 Aug 2009, jones_gone wrote:

    i am glad he was banned, it's shameful cheating, but it was also a step towards specialist kickers, who come on to take a kick then leave the field of play, only to be bought backon later. this must not be permitted.

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  • 15. At 5:19pm on 18 Aug 2009, eirebilly wrote:

    When i used to play rugby, all those years ago, it wasnt unheard of biting your own lip to get a few minutes on the sideline. Granted its getting worse but i feel that Richards ban is well over the top.

    The bigger picture is, the money that is now involved in rugby . With the cost of high earning tournements at stake, players and training staff are feeling more pressured to make these decisions.

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  • 16. At 5:23pm on 18 Aug 2009, Black Francis wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 5:24pm on 18 Aug 2009, Wasps_Ian wrote:

    Quins got everything they deserved. Will the IRB now be looking at the 1st test from this year's Lions series, when PDV made the mistake of subbing off all his best players with 20mins to go. When the Lions fought back, all of a sudden Deon Carstens developed an injury bad enough to force him from the park, allowing Smit to return, but wasn't bad enough to stop him being on the bench the following week. Then, to compound matters Adie Jacobs went off for a 'blood injury' allowing Ruan Pianaar back on. Given that there wasn't a drop of blood to be seen anywhere, one can only assume he must have had internal bleeding.....

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  • 18. At 5:24pm on 18 Aug 2009, Alex wrote:

    Surely the element which make this quite so outrageous was the brazen nature of the whole affair, followed by the somewhat ludicrous nature of subsequent events. It started off like a scene from a pantomime and went downhill from there!

    Whilst I'm sure 'fake' blood injuries are pretty commonplace (and I would welcome any attempts to crack down on it), this one was perhaps the most blatant and cynical, and downright embarrasing abuse of the laws from which all parties emerge with their reputations indelibly marked.

    And I say that as a Quins fan.

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  • 19. At 5:30pm on 18 Aug 2009, eirebilly wrote:

    Simon, It kind of defeats the purpose of this blog/debate by having nearly all of your posters having more than 30mins pre mod.

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  • 20. At 5:33pm on 18 Aug 2009, JVincentB wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 21. At 5:34pm on 18 Aug 2009, Black Francis wrote:

    Well done mr moderator,

    Stifle the debate before it has any chance to get going. 3 of the first 18 posts manage to get through. Im off down the pub.

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  • 22. At 5:42pm on 18 Aug 2009, OwenG wrote:

    Disappointed to see the comparisons to football. Just because another sport takes a disappointing approach to cheating/deception it does not mean that rugby should follow suit.

    The ban is severe, but isn't this a result of the combination of the cheating and the cover up? The authorities want to stamp this activity out - and with the incentives to cheat being so high, the punishment needs to be high too if it is to act as a deterrent.

    If the ban seems high versus the 8 weeks for gouging, then just increase the gouging ban. Also there is surely a concern that fake blood is premeditated cheating whereas something like gouging, while uncondonable, might well be more a heat of the moment offence.

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  • 23. At 5:47pm on 18 Aug 2009, arundini wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 5:50pm on 18 Aug 2009, Bortron wrote:

    Maybe Richards is being used as a scapegoat, having an example made of him, but I can only see that as a good thing. Perhaps, if it's a problem that's still endemic in the sport, it'll make other teams think twice about doing it.

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  • 25. At 6:06pm on 18 Aug 2009, wyn_morgan wrote:

    How on earth does the Club escape a ban from Europe!! It beggars belief.

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  • 26. At 6:30pm on 18 Aug 2009, eirebilly wrote:

    Even though it is a common occurance i dont feel that its good for the game. That said i stand by my belief that Richards ban is very over the top. I dont believe for one second that there is any coach or player not guilty of faining an injury to get an advantage. How will it be governed and what punishments will be handed out?
    Lets face it with the amount of money that is in rugby at this time cheating will become more rife.
    Sad but true

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  • 27. At 6:50pm on 18 Aug 2009, cdoug wrote:

    Personally, I am glad the ban dished out to Williams was reduced to four months, as it is clear that this whole debacle was never have been masterminded by the player himself. Having seen him week in week out at the Stoop, he is a quality player. What is saddest of all is that this quality as a matchwinner was completely ignored by the club in pursuit of getting a clearly injured Nick Evans on the pitch to do the business, which he was clearly incapable of achieving. The pressure that a young player would be put under to conform to this vote of no confidence thrust on him by the club is almost inescapable, and I think it would take an unusually strong callender to say 'No, I'm not doing this'.

    A precedent needed to be set for sure, but the offending party in my eyes is the club, and so I am glad that, whilst rightly not escaping culbability, Tom Williams has been shown a leniancy that his situation merits.

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  • 28. At 6:54pm on 18 Aug 2009, eirebilly wrote:


    Unfortunately your blog has gone down the same road as those of Phil McNulty's and have become 1 long pre-mod. This has totally ruined what i thought was a great blog which would have been open to a great debate and discouraged posters.

    Good luck next blog.

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  • 29. At 7:02pm on 18 Aug 2009, shimmieandshake wrote:

    People say this ban is unfair. What if Evans had nailed the drop-goal and Harlequins had gone on to win the Heineken Cup in this manner? The whole reputation of the competition would be in tatters. Rightful ban, rightly targeted at those who administered it, rather than the player forced to do it for the good of his team. Richards, you deserved it, you're a disgrace.

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  • 30. At 7:07pm on 18 Aug 2009, tonyf wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 31. At 7:14pm on 18 Aug 2009, wyn_morgan wrote:

    There is more censorship on the BBC Sport site than ever there was in the Soviet Union

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  • 32. At 7:15pm on 18 Aug 2009, Jason Burton wrote:

    Look...the eye gouging is a completely separate incident...the 8 week ban recently handed out was, at best, a cop out. It would be simple to set out standard criteria and issue standard bans. Bloodgate however, whilst not causing anyone physical harm, was, undoubtedly pre-meditated. Carlings suggestion that Deano is being used as a scapegoat is bordering on defending the man who has instigated 'the cheat'. Whether the problem is rife or not....they got caught - Deal with it. Performance enhancing drugs gets you a lifetime ban...eerrr isnt that cheating. If Quins had won that game, imagine the revenue Leinster would have lost....All concerned should count themselves lucky quite frankly - Id love to know what Brain Moore is saying about it!

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  • 33. At 7:23pm on 18 Aug 2009, rightRobbiesKeen wrote:

    Funny the comments about gouging; what on earth has that to do with this case? You are clearly trying to divert attention away from thorough, dissembling cheats. This is extraordinary, profound cheating, utterly disgusting. Anyone who doesn't condemn it outright condones the most devastating kind of cheating going. You may as well ignore the game and all its rules.

    Richards' ban is well-deserved but like a South American footballer who slashd himself amid a smoke fume he should probably be removed from the game for life. And Williams's ban is lenient; a 2-year ban on playing would have been more appropriate.

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  • 34. At 7:27pm on 18 Aug 2009, Johndoe wrote:

    There are so many aspects of this story which make me think Quins got off lightly. They (Quins) should hang their heads in shame, How they are still in the HRC is beyond me.
    First the action, then cover up and then leaving the player to carry the can, only coming clean when the player was ready to spill the beans.

    Its not any sort of excuse to refer to some other incident. All cheating and dsngerous play should be cracked down on and the sooner the better.

    It would be an interesting senario if they had won the match from a kick, what then? They would have gotten much worse punishment one suspects and hopes.

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  • 35. At 7:41pm on 18 Aug 2009, fawltyoldboy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 36. At 7:45pm on 18 Aug 2009, caymankai wrote:

    The whole incident is rather sad for the game as a whole.

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  • 37. At 7:47pm on 18 Aug 2009, caymankai wrote:

    I agree the moderation takes far to long, one comment i see was posted 45 mins ago and is still being moderated I suspect this will go the same way !!

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  • 38. At 7:48pm on 18 Aug 2009, caymankai wrote:

    Odd my 7.45 comment No 36 is being moderated but my 7.47 comment did not get moderated at all how come??

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  • 39. At 7:51pm on 18 Aug 2009, wyn_morgan wrote:

    Isn't it fun that this has become a blog on the moderator now.

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  • 40. At 7:52pm on 18 Aug 2009, Jason Burton wrote:

    Re: Moderation.....Im confused as well. Ive checked to see if I have said anything a little dodgy compared to other posts and I think not. Maybe the moderators could put up a post explaining the situation for a bit of clarity - it would be appreciated.

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  • 41. At 8:06pm on 18 Aug 2009, Ruck_Maker wrote:

    What about the root cause of the problem? Privately-owned clubs in England, (and France) who are motivated by profit. For them, rugby is business, and in business you do what is needed to get ahead.

    Of course the Premiership is rife with cheating, driven by the fear of relegation all the clubs will do anything to succeed. Any suggestions of sharing money equally with the lower division is rejected out of greed.

    Time for England to embrace the successful Regional/Provincial model!
    (And time for Wales Regions to stop trying to break away and become Clubs.)

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  • 42. At 8:08pm on 18 Aug 2009, Pash666 wrote:

    Carling is right, this sort of behaviour has been happening in the game for years. If asked, (without fear of retribution) every Premiership manager would say they've 'faked' something to aid their teams' performace. Maybe blood, maybe a reserve prop who's substituted to bring on a starting prop or maybe to go uncontested - it happens and will continue to happen. Richards has been made a scapegoat and it stinks.

    Whilst I'm not bringing-up the whole Burger issue again. It does demonstrate a lack of consistency throughout the game and at every level from refereeing to the old' boys at the RFU.

    A fake blood incident won't kill the game, this multitude of inconsistencies will kill the game - get it right, get in done quickly and do it right time-and-time again or you'll we'll be burying the beautiful game of rugby before they get Jacko's body in the ground!!!!!

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  • 43. At 8:20pm on 18 Aug 2009, amason51 wrote:

    Gouging may be in the heat of the moment but someone could lose an eye! Whether pre-meditated, or not, using blood capsules will hurt no one. Penalty should be the other way round, three years or more for gouging and eight weeks for use of blood capsule. Keep it real!

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  • 44. At 8:29pm on 18 Aug 2009, Jason Burton wrote:

    Couple of things inacurate there!
    Firstly the Welsh Regions are businesses and are in the main, injected with cash from private businessmen (Examples: Mike Cuddy - Ospreys & Peter Thomas - Cardiff Blues) - Yes the WRU have input but without the backers the Regions would fold, profit drives are not an affliction limited to the English Clubs . The issue with the pressure of the Guinness Premiership is relegation. I not really sure why you suggest the Welsh Regions are trying to break away and become clubs - they were formed from the foundations of the clubs that now feed them players and, Im glad to say, the Welsh public are now fully behind the system.
    Whilst the set up of the premiership may bring its own pressures to avoid relegation, that in itself is irrelevant, all sport is competition and therefore holds its own pressures regardless of the format. The game in question was in the Heineken Cup.....the biggest competition in Europe - does that mean we have to lend some sympathy to Quins because they were losing....I think not! I have to say, I agree with some previous posts in that the Quins should be barred from European Competition for a period of time.....maybe the loss of this potential profit will focus their minds a little.

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  • 45. At 8:31pm on 18 Aug 2009, Lordy L wrote:

    Why is everyone going ballistic about this?

    We see football players blatantly cheating, trying to get other players sent off and/or feigning injury every single game and yet we accept it as if absolutely nothing is wrong.....

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  • 46. At 8:38pm on 18 Aug 2009, RightWingCashCow wrote:

    Mr Richards is a former police officer supposedly to display the virues of truth and honesty. Perhaps this says sonething about the quality of police force recruitment at the present time.

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  • 47. At 8:38pm on 18 Aug 2009, xpat73 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 48. At 8:44pm on 18 Aug 2009, timsoc wrote:

    I am amazed that although a different topic certain posts seem to dismiss Burgers violent thuggery as not important as it was not pre meditated. Surely rugby to prosper has to eliminate both cheating and thuggery and the comparison is relevent for this end. For the authorities to hold credence then they need to follow up the Richards ban with a review of the many other club and country incidents and cite those that are suspicious. At the same time make a clear statement that thuggery should not be accepted so the ban for the Burger type incident increased to be a severe penalty, I would also welcome a review of the South Africans behavior on the Lions tour as cheating and thuggery have been raised as possible issues.

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  • 49. At 8:49pm on 18 Aug 2009, Jason Burton wrote:

    Why did I sign up to this...I'll be on here for hours!

    Lordy L.....The only people I know who defend the footballing version of feined injury are the avid watchers of that particular game. I for one usually hit my head on the ceiling when one of the overpaid professional shoppers fall over a blade of grass then to be carried off by stretcher. Different game, different comaprison.

    XPAT73 - I agree, the trouble is in this case, is that Sky had TV footage of him getting the blood capsule from his sock and bursting it in his mouth....caught red handed so to speak.

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  • 50. At 8:54pm on 18 Aug 2009, ballykelly99 wrote:

    Some irony in the fact that Neil Back has been quoted speaking positively about Dean Richards. What is the saying " Birds of a feather flock together "...the "Hand of Back " and " Bloodgate"...prseumably they have a bit to chat about their respective " sporting " experiences

    Harlequins should have been kicked out of all ERC competitions. There has always been an arrogance at that club which ( they think ) sets them apart.

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  • 51. At 9:00pm on 18 Aug 2009, arundini wrote:

    My comment from 17.47 is still being moderated ! Ridiculous ! I have checked the Rules and said nothing which contravienes them !
    What happened to free speech ?
    Poster no.31 is right...........

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  • 52. At 9:01pm on 18 Aug 2009, Economicallyliterate wrote:

    As someone who normally posts on other non sport based blogs I can hopefully answer some of the questions re some items still awaiting moderation and others cleared. I'm sure the BBC could clear it up if required.

    The subject matter of this blog is controversial and some of the removed or waiting posts made comments that cannot be verified or may come too close to allegations that the BBC find controversial. Sport blogging had issues with legal threats this year so the BBC need to exercise discretion.

    I imagine that all posts are initially moderated and if they state nothing controversial then they will be quickly cleared. Others may get referred for a second moderation prior to clearance.

    I'm now going to jump in with both feet on the subject.

    Many people have compared the punishment for this event against gauging and specific events in South Africa.

    I believe, and I may be wrong, that the reason the player involved was originally treated severely was exactly as Simon's post suggests i.e. to get to the bottom of this.

    It would appear that the reason the punishment was harsh was that the powers that be took the actions of Harlequins to be.

    1) Pre-meditated.
    2) Involved the collusion of a number of parties at the club both in the incident itself but also in a concerted cover up. They IRB et al possibly see this event as a watershed moment for the sport. Failure to act sending out the wrong signals.

    With regard to gouging it could be argued that the act of gouging is generally undertaken by one player off their own back during the heat of battle as it were. A more troubling incident to me is not the incident in South Africa but the spear tackle on Brian O'Driscoll in 2005 in New Zealand.

    Rugby and the Heineken Cup is going the way that Football is with the Champions League so there must be temptation to try everything to win and get further in a highly lucrative cup. The top clubs have huge outgoings and need to get results.

    I imagine coaches in Premier Rugby will soon be under the same stresses and hire and fire regime currently shown in top level football.

    Maybe the IRB felt they needed to make a stand.

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  • 53. At 9:14pm on 18 Aug 2009, backplayisking wrote:

    looking U review... no problem in the game obviously will be the outcome, heads in the sand as usual... what a poor excuse for a sport rugby uniin is turning into

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  • 54. At 9:17pm on 18 Aug 2009, pheasantplucker wrote:

    I think the irb has set a positive precedence here but also a very dangerous one. Firstly, specifically the incident. I think the four month ban is still a bit harsh but not too bad, three years and two for coach and physio seem excessive. Think a year for each more appropriate.

    Now in wider terms. This issue is very wide spread and covers a number of areas from blood replacements to front row injuries. The methods employed might difer but the crime is the same. To get a player back on the field when the laws of the game says he shouldn't. Just look at the amount of times john smit for SA comes of and then comes on again for the last ten is things are going wrong. First lions test is a perfect example. Smit comes of with twenty left, lions start to dominate, with ten left the front wrong gets 'injured' so smit comes back on and steadies the ship. Is this different to faking blood to get a kicker on? I dont think it is!

    Therefore, i believe this ruling means whole scale changes needed in terms of blood injuries, front row injuries and substitutions in general.

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  • 55. At 9:18pm on 18 Aug 2009, jesdamess93 wrote:

    Quins were scapegoats. There are so many other forms of cheating. What about all the trips and punches? Eye gouging and dangerous tackles? Yes Quins did wrong and did rightfully deserved to be punished, however is the severity of the punishment right? Eye gouging only gets 8 weeks. Neil Back got 6 Months for pushing over the Ref. I can't help but think that Quins (and particularly Richards and Brennan) got off particularly hard. Williams did not act souly from instructions from Richards an Brennan, he did it off his own bac too, why did he get such a light ban?

    We also must learn (before we wrongfully judge) ALL the things that went on. We are probably only getting half a story so it is wrong to judge.

    Has anyone also forgotten what Richards did for England? He is the most capped number 8, surely if he was a big a cheat as everyone is making him out to be he would not have got all those caps and played for the lions.

    I just think that we are judging a book by it's cover and we must wait till we know more..

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  • 56. At 9:41pm on 18 Aug 2009, Always Blurting wrote:

    Makes a change to see Rugby Union getting negative headlines for a change. A Rugby League player only has to sneeze in the wrong direction and the sport is castigated by the pro-Union press including 5Live. What with Bath players failing to take drugs tests and Mike Phillips alleged assault, it seems the press should redress the "bad-boy" balance and portray Rugby Union's less than perfect side.

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  • 57. At 9:45pm on 18 Aug 2009, xpat73 wrote:

    My comment at 8.38pm was moderated and deleted. I am not sure why.

    I merely asked a simple question. What is the difference by faking an injury by using a fake blood pill to get a previously subbed off player back on.....and just having a player state he is injured when he is not to get a previously subbed off player back on.

    It goes on all the time....maybe the pill is a bit more brazen, but the effect and intent is the same.

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  • 58. At 9:47pm on 18 Aug 2009, Bloody Marvellous wrote:

    The law separates out what crimes are "heat of the moment" and those which are premeditated - so I don't see why the rugby authorities shouldn't act in the same way. The fact that the club was willing to allow the player to take the whole rap is the most shocking aspect of this seriously dishonourable behaviour.

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  • 59. At 9:56pm on 18 Aug 2009, the thirsty scholar wrote:

    Excellent blog Simon! Top notch journalism!

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  • 60. At 10:01pm on 18 Aug 2009, rightRobbiesKeen wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 61. At 10:04pm on 18 Aug 2009, alchemistdh wrote:

    A number of points
    1. This is an incredibly sad day for rugby union - it really has descended into the pit!
    2. If the practice is as common as has been indicated, then the RFU, IRB and other bodies have plainly taken both eyes right of the ball!
    3. This problem can simply be solved. At all matches at or above a certain level all treatment would have to be in a specified location where there would be an doctor who would be independant (or perhaps represent the opposition!) who would would briefly examine the injured player to ensure that the injury was genuine. This would only take a few seconds.
    4. This would certainly obviate the "blood bag" problem and probably more minor contraventions of the rule.
    5. The Premiership clubs should simply be told by the RFU or preferably the IRB that the above measures will be taken - there should be no negotiation. Additionally, any use of blood bags discovered should certainly result in the TOTAL suspension on the club concerned for at least 12 months in addition to any other penalties. The financial penalty on clubs must be so great that it will simply not be worth taking the risk.

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  • 62. At 10:15pm on 18 Aug 2009, jesdamess93 wrote:

    The club was NOT going to let him take all the rap. They were going to support him in his appeal. So that comment is unfair. The club were not happy with what he got (what club would be), which is why they decided to support him, had he gone and appealed with what they said before he would have got a MAXIMUM of 6 months.. and he would have been unlucky to get that.. difficult to judge them when you don't know it all...

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  • 63. At 10:32pm on 18 Aug 2009, davodiablo wrote:

    Oh Dear English fans . Stop making excuses and hang your head in shame . Nobody comes out looking good in this mess. As for Will Carling saying its unfair because premiership teams cheat all the time. What a really stupid argument and I don't have to explain. Do I ?? Okay ...people get murdered everyday so lets reduce the punishment !

    As for trying to bring in the old spear tackle that never was. Well that went before a committee and they saw nothing wrong.Nasty clearout from a ruck ...unlucky !
    Nick Evans come home please!

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  • 64. At 10:35pm on 18 Aug 2009, Grouchmonkey wrote:

    Why not just change the rules? the only reason people fake blood injuries is because a blood injury gives you the chance to come back on. Why not say that, as in football, X substitutions are allowed per game, injury or no injury, but once you are off, you are off.

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  • 65. At 10:37pm on 18 Aug 2009, TWSI wrote:

    Are Harlequins not lucky this tactic failed. Had they won because of it and Leinster sued or they been disqualified having gone through would not the consequences have been worse?

    Richards adopted the politicians incompetence defence where by you say I was in charge but knew absolutely about it. He well deserves his ban and frankly the club is being let off very lightly here. Probably because of the spurious rational that the fans of 'Quins are the innocent victims here. I think authorities should want more than the head of an already resigned and discredited manager/director (as a cheat or incompetent whichever way you choose to see it).

    We Brits love to whine about cheating but when it's Dean or Wayne or Brian or Neil not Schalk or Tana or Cristiano we get all coy and say it's all too harsh.

    Saddest of all after his ban, likely reduced on appeal, no doubt Richards will be hoovered up by some high moral ground club talking about him havin' done his time.

    No one at 'Quins showed any integrity here and the player is lucky to only get 4 months given his original actions and role in the original cover up. Only 'fessing up when he felt he had to. The original year was lenient the reduction more so.

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  • 66. At 10:38pm on 18 Aug 2009, davodiablo wrote:

    And for all you guys who are commenting but don't know or can't read The IRB have had nothing to do with this as yet. The ban was handed out by the ERC.

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  • 67. At 10:40pm on 18 Aug 2009, traveller_chris wrote:

    First of all, a very sad day for our sport. Possibly a touch harsh on Richards, after all , everyone's at it, he's the one who got caught. Funny how the disciplinary committees are happy to go after young players but seem scared of dishing out a hefty penalty to an established international (Schalk Burger, who should have been banned for 12 months).
    Secondly, lets have one regulatory body deal with all of the citings / charges worldwide. At least that way we might get some proportional punishment. In this case, I strongly feel that its the club who should bear the brunt of the punishment, not the player.

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  • 68. At 10:44pm on 18 Aug 2009, U14036238 wrote:

    It's with mild amusement that I read comments from people that think this is something new or isolated... prop forwards have limped out of matches in every season I've played the game in order to enforce uncontested scrums...

    Given that Deano was found complicit in at least four other instances, this is clearly institutionalised 'rule interpretation'...

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  • 69. At 10:46pm on 18 Aug 2009, Grouchmonkey wrote:

    PS uncontested scrums are rubbish, too. How many props have hobbled off when they are not getting the best of it? Again the rules are at fault. I understand the wish to avoid injury but the rule invites abuse. Why not say if there's no specialist prop the back rows drop off to reduce the overall pressure and the risk of injury but leave the team with two fit props with an advantage?

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  • 70. At 10:48pm on 18 Aug 2009, davodiablo wrote:

    I also read today that there are 4 other matches being looked at where Halequins allegedly cheated which will be looked at by the bodys involved as they were not Heinekin Cup Matches so there could be further punishment !

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  • 71. At 10:51pm on 18 Aug 2009, Graham_Austin_007 wrote:

    If Richards acted on his own (i.e. without the knowledge of his bosses) then surely it is open for the club to sue him for damages, which could be a big sum.

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  • 72. At 10:52pm on 18 Aug 2009, captain_insaino wrote:

    Good, they now need to get London Wasps for all the 'injuries' that their front row players get, forcing them to go to uncontested scrums so many times.

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  • 73. At 10:55pm on 18 Aug 2009, davodiablo wrote:

    Correction! Just read that the IRB and RFU have made the ban world wide.Well done.

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  • 74. At 11:45pm on 18 Aug 2009, tweeds77 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 75. At 00:50am on 19 Aug 2009, specs75 wrote:

    This is cheating of the worst kind. I am sorry but if young people coming into the game or people looking into the sport think this is acceptable then the game is sadly weakened.

    All responsible should be banned for life, there is no place for cheating in any sport and something this blatant makes a fool of the game and sport in general.

    Cannot believe it's only three years they were all complicit in this and should be punished far more heavily. Quins should be thrown out of the cup and be hit with a points penalty.

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  • 76. At 00:52am on 19 Aug 2009, specs75 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 77. At 02:07am on 19 Aug 2009, ahmedjeffersontyke wrote:

    It is a sad day for rugby, but on the other hand we should look at it positively because cheats have been punished. If the practice of feigning blood injuries is as common as stated then this action by the ERC/IRB will go a long way to eradicate the blatant cheating.

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  • 78. At 02:26am on 19 Aug 2009, TallWill wrote:


    It wasn't the blood pill that got the three years, it was the cover-up. It's called the Richard Nixon Rule, after Watergate.

    The ERB were pretty smart: 3 years on Williams to flush out the key perps on whom they didn't have any initial evidence (i.e., Richards; the physio; and the Club). Harlequins and Richards deserved everything they got, if only for lying and for pressuring Williams into lying. "Everybody does it" ain't a defence...

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  • 79. At 05:27am on 19 Aug 2009, caymankai wrote:

    Some very interesting points raised all in all a good debate as well.

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  • 80. At 05:59am on 19 Aug 2009, kitdeh wrote:

    Exactly, it was not just the blood capsule that gave rise to the long term ban and heavy fine. Quins team cut someone's mouth open with a scalpel to cover up a lie. That's pretty sick. Then feigning outrage at the suggestion that had cheated, will multiple parties becoming co-conspirators. It was the same with the Lewis Hamilton incident over taking Jarno Trulli under a yellow flag. It's not the incident it's lying to officials and covering up cheating.

    What really annoys me is that we've lost the moral high ground to footballers. They will be intolerable now!

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  • 81. At 06:54am on 19 Aug 2009, BennyBlanco wrote:

    First, what does pre-meditated mean? If Evans hadn't been injured they wouldn't have needed to do it. So how far ahead did they have to think of it for it to be no longer in the heat of the moment?

    Second, every single coach has done this one way or another. The big difference was it was solely done to win the game directly, not from secondary gain like having your captain back on (Smit) or going uncontested. So it was more blatant direct cheating rather than subtle cheating which, let's face it, rugby's laws invite. So to that end, the sentences are probably just.

    But most importantly, the worst possible outcome is for the IRB to sit back and think a stern warning is enough. Something has to be done to stop this in our game. The obvious solution is to have an independent doctor at every top game to verify a source of bleeding on the field before the player is to come off. This isn't perfect, but it's a start. The problem of props faking injury is impossible though. How can anyone prove a limping prop is faking it? The answer here is to increase the number of props allowed on the bench, and penalise teams 5 points from the scoreboard if injuries on their side result in uncontested scrums.

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  • 82. At 07:15am on 19 Aug 2009, Segnes wrote:

    This entire scandal is bad news for the game, and so are folk who engage in piety-parties on the basis of it. Yes, many - if not all - rugby union players cheat in many ways. Yes, many rugby union coaches teach players to cheat - the best coaches are the past-masters of clever cheating. It begins with cheating about age-group demarcations, rapidly runs to illicit intimidation of opponents, and it extends to steroids, oxygenation and heaven knows what else.

    Yes, it behoves not only the IRB and every other rugby union authority to be seen to be acting effectively to identify, prevent and punish cheating. Indeed, more so in the era of professionalism than ever before, I think.

    But no, picking a solitary scapegoat who tried to cover up the felony and failed will not solve the problem. Making a martyr in a single instance and turning a blind eye to widespread - even common - practice will not solve the problem. Like many others, I'd need to see the IRB hunting down and similarly punishing every instance of similar or analogous cheating - many of which are a matter of record - before I stopped feeling, deep in my bowels, that Richards has been treated unfairly.

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  • 83. At 07:31am on 19 Aug 2009, DMAndy wrote:

    There was a suggestion above that football is rife with cheating too and it doesn't matter that rugby is too so let's look at how football dealt with a similar cheat.

    In 1989, Chile was losing to Brazil and heading out of the World Cup at the qualifying stages. Then, a flare landed near Roberto Rojas, the Chilean goalkeeper, Rojas fell to the ground, cut his forehead with a concealed razor blade and Chile walked off the pitch claiming that the game was too unsafe to play.

    The result, Brazil were given the victory by default, Chile were not only eliminated from the 1990 World Cup but also banned from the following World Cup. Rojas was given a life ban, Chile's manager and team doctor were given life bans and the Chile captain was banned for five years.

    Maybe it would be harsh on Williams to ban him for life, but four months is remarkably lenient. As for Richards and whoever used the scalpel to cut Williams's mouth, they should be banned from the sport for life, rugby doesn't need people like that.

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  • 84. At 08:22am on 19 Aug 2009, portreath21 wrote:

    Surely a simple short term solution to this problem would be to ensure that once a player goes off either for injury or tactical reasons then he stays off. If he happens to be the main kicker so be it. I accept that this may cause a problem in the front row and that bench structure may have to be altered somewhat but by the other side of the coin if uncontested scrums were removed from the vocabulary I wonder how many of these interminable changes we would see in the future.

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  • 85. At 08:31am on 19 Aug 2009, hackerjack wrote:

    This would have been fairly simple to avoid.

    Just add a ruling that teams can nominate two designated kickers before the match, one starter and one sub. Should then the sub get injured then the starter should be allowed back into play. Same thing with hookers and props. Blood injuries should be assessed by a neutral party before leavign the pitchside area.

    Thse could both be introduced right now in time for the start of the new season.

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  • 86. At 08:57am on 19 Aug 2009, Factsareawkwardthings wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 87. At 09:26am on 19 Aug 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    Thanks for your comments everyone...and sorry that some of them took a long time to moderate. We'll have a look into that.

    #62 jesdamess93...Quins might have been willing to support Williams in appealing his ban, but they certainly didn't want him to come clean about exactly what had happened/ his mouth being cut in the changing room/ the four previous occasions that the club had used blood capsules.

    Williams decided to come clean of his own volition, supported strongly by the PRA. As soon as he did that, Richards knew his position had become untenable, as did the physio.

    One other question - do you think chief executive Mark Evans has got off lightly?

    He wasn't censured by the disciplinary panel/ appeal and has kept his job. How much did he know about what had happened in the Leinster game?

    And did he speak to Williams before the first hearing in July? If so, what did he tell him? If he told him the truth about what had happened, why did Quins deny any wrongdoing?

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  • 88. At 09:53am on 19 Aug 2009, harnettski wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 89. At 10:41am on 19 Aug 2009, BasilF wrote:

    Regarding the front row - if you bring in penalties to teams who have two props injured then you are going to be encouraging more foul play - as the props then become a target for the opposition; injure two of them and that is 5 points.

    Also, having both props go off injured doesn't always help that team - take Lol's last match where both the Wasps props went off and the scrums went uncontested - result was Leicester scoring straight from a scrum when they hadn't threatened to all match.

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  • 90. At 10:50am on 19 Aug 2009, BennyBlanco wrote:


    Mark Evans is going to have to come up with the money, so I don't think he got off too lightly. It's widely assumed that Premiership rugby clubs are held together financially by threads, so it is a lot of money, even for Quins.

    It's hard to know how much he knew, but to what extent does the CE of a rugby club fall under the jurisdiction of the ERC or IRB? And what could they do other than fine him? He couldn't be banned by them from running the club surely? That would open up a whole can of employment law worms...

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  • 91. At 10:51am on 19 Aug 2009, be the hokey wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 92. At 10:58am on 19 Aug 2009, davethomassocks wrote:

    Not sure if it's been mentioned already but does anyone know why the Harlequins physio had fake blood capsules in his medical kit in the first place? Is there any legitmiate medical reason for him having them?

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  • 93. At 10:58am on 19 Aug 2009, be the hokey wrote:

    Any yearning from anyone for the amateur days?

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  • 94. At 11:19am on 19 Aug 2009, Candyman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 95. At 11:25am on 19 Aug 2009, arundini wrote:

    My comment from 17.47 has still not appeared but I have received no email explaining why !!
    I merely sugested among other things that Williams might sue the club if he was indeed cut with a scalpel as part of the deceit........

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  • 96. At 11:31am on 19 Aug 2009, BennyBlanco wrote:

    Go Wasps,

    If there were an entire front row available on the bench, the opposition would have to hobble 3 props over the course of a match for the scrums to go uncontested, and if a team has 3 props (the two starting props and one replacement) who are soft enough to be deliberately targetted and injured by the opposition, then they deserve to lose 5 points from the scoreboard.

    Thinking more about how Tom Williams acted, when I was playing I refused to go off with blood, I had to be ordered off by the ref. Can you imagine Phil Waugh or Martin Corry faking a blood injury? They would find the whole thing insulting and a slur on their character. Williams obviously was either easily led, or has little dignity or integrity.

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  • 97. At 12:04pm on 19 Aug 2009, Weaverine wrote:

    This is cheating pure and simple. If anybody tries to say anything different, they are only deluding themselves and it does not make it right just because ex-players etc say that things like this go on all the time. It has no place in sport It seems to have been some plan as by all accounts this capsule was retrieved from the players sock which in my opinion only aggravates the situation. The punishments are heavy and I have no problem with that but I agree that the punishments for deliberate foul play should be looked at with a view to an increase in these as well.

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  • 98. At 12:19pm on 19 Aug 2009, Kubali wrote:

    I think there will be plenty of work for Dean Richards once the ban expires. It would seem from Dick Bests comments in 2001 than things like this occur in rugby alot more than is realised, therefore Richards is no different from many other coaches - Quins just got caught. With that in mind, I don't think he will be as stigmatised by the rugby community as the media believe he will be.

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  • 99. At 12:30pm on 19 Aug 2009, jesdamess93 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 100. At 12:40pm on 19 Aug 2009, BathFanRichard wrote:

    Quins accepted that four previous incidents of "blood bin" cheating had occurred, and details were sent to the competitions involved by ERFU.

    Can we now look forward to action being taken by Guinness Premiership?, EDF Cup? etc- such as disqualification or points deducted at start of season?

    The club has got away lightly so far

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  • 101. At 12:41pm on 19 Aug 2009, Candyman wrote:


    Unless it's proved that Mark Evans knew what was happening all along, there's no point in any debate as to whether he personally got off lightly or not.

    What is obvious is that Harlequins tried to banish Leinster from the competition by unfair means, so the only way to ensure that the club as a whole get the punishment that fits their crime, is to ban them from European competition next year.
    I can't understand why this hasn't happened.

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  • 102. At 12:54pm on 19 Aug 2009, AlexCricket wrote:

    What I think angers rugby fans is that the ERC and IRB is more interested in this sort of cheating than the cynical fouls that increasingly seem to be creaping into the game.

    I think that what was done was wrong - but indemic - we see all these stupid rouses about injuries. The substitution regulations should be made more simple and then there is less room for abuse. I feel that it is an indictment on the governing bodies control of the game as much if not more than the perpetrators of the cheating. I notice that the governing bodies smugly recon that it has all been dealt with.

    I would propose that due the the nature of the modern game the bench should be increased from 7 to 10 and it should be obligatory for it t contain: 1x hooker, 2x props 1x 2nd row 1x backrow, and 1x scrumhalf and 1x flyhalf. Though in order to prevent farcical substitutions a side would only be allowed to make 4 substitutions. If a player was removed from the field of play it would have to be stated as either a tactical substitution or a injury substitution the later having to be verified by an independent medic. They could return to the field as a later substitution.

    If a specialist player (ie prop) had come on as a substitute and been injured the player who started the match in that position could be brought back onto the field - irrestpective of the number of substitutions that had occured - provided that the outgoing player was to the saticfaction of the referee 'unable to continue for medical reasons'

    This stupid situation with Quins was caused because they had substitued Evans on a tactical basis. Malone was then injured - they then had a healthy player on the bench but were unable to bring him back on without resorting to illegitamte methods. I can no longer see the justification for not allowing substituted players to return to the pitch. you don't want a situation where players are contantly to-ing and fro-ing so therefore you limit the amount of substitutions. IF a tema really want to use one of these for a specialist kicker for a last minute penalty then that is up to them - a minor price to pay for fewer uncontested scrums and farcical blood-bins.

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  • 103. At 1:01pm on 19 Aug 2009, englandcomeon wrote:

    Typical BBC always PC, yes the cheating was premeditated but some player's game plan is just to take other players out by fair or foul means. Making an example of a few to deter the many is all very well, but surely the normal practice is to warn people that "we are watching for this now, so don't do it or else".

    Setting a precedent without warning all concerned first or offering those concerned an ultimatum "we know and can prove it so either own up or we will throw the book at you" is going overboard.
    It's no different than the govt taking your driving licence away for a minor speeding fine and then them saying afterwards, "we decided on a policy of no tolerance from yesterday on"

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  • 104. At 1:09pm on 19 Aug 2009, Black Francis wrote:

    Well I have fallen foul of the moderators on possible defamatory grounds, although nothing I wrote seems to have been denied by the parties involved.

    Anyway the gist of it was, to all the holier than thou RU fans who appear to see the punishment as draconian when it is held up against football's seeming tolerance towards diving and the feidning of injury whilst ignoring the skulduggery that goes on during rugby games. The incident being discussed goes much deeper than on field antics be it rugby or footbal. So these barbs to me smack of defensiveness for fear of no longer being able to take the moral high ground.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not anti rugby, I love the game but it just so happens that football is my first love and the constant sniping by snooty RU fans has become tiresome to say the least.

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  • 105. At 1:09pm on 19 Aug 2009, vcfsantos wrote:

    Does nobody think the player got off lightly? I realise that he may not have been the instigator, does not have the 4 previous counts against him and additionally provided the relevant information eventually to the board but he was still entirely complicit in the act of cheating.

    I'm reminded of the incident in Formula 1 earlier this season when Hamilton lied to the F1 authorities and then in his defence said that he only did it because he was told to.

    Both Hamilton and Williams are grown men who should have enough of an idea of right and wrong to know that willful deception of the sporting authorities is unacceptable. It is easy to be contrite when you know that doing so will earn you a much reduced punishment and paint you in a better light. It is much harder to simply say 'no' when asked to do something illegal, even if it is by your coach.

    My hunch is that many more people within Quins should be on the receiving end of formal punishments. I realise that this almost certainly extends to other clubs as well but, unfortunately, they haven't been caught.

    Oh, and for the person who resented the football comparisons: I'm afraid that they're easy comparisons to make. A player feigning injury in order to get an unfair advantage for his team? Seems like it goes on in both Premierships.

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  • 106. At 1:15pm on 19 Aug 2009, Rob wrote:

    I think the punishments that have been handed out fit the crimes committed entirely. Even if it goes on all the time, then the people involved will be aware of the potential risks if they get caught.

    The most interesting side of the debate is not the incident itself, but the cause of the incident- using a loophole in the rules in order to bring on a player who has been substituted off.

    So what's the solution?

    A harsh one would be to impose more strict rulings on substitutions- if a player has been subbed off then that's it. They can't come back off under any circumstances. This could still lead to uncontested scrums, so would be potentially open to abuse, but how about if a front row player can only be replaced with another front row player? Then a prop injury would either result in another prop coming on, or the team going down to 14 men.

    It would be slightly unfair in the case of genuine injuries, but would prevent this gamesmanship. How else can you police this?

    A solution for blood subs is to have an independent 'blood ref', a qualifiied physician who can advise the referee, removing the ability for the club's physios to cheat in this manner.

    It's clearly an area where teams can exploit the rules to their advantage, so something needs to be done.

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  • 107. At 1:16pm on 19 Aug 2009, ernestbill wrote:

    The solution is simple - increase the number of substitutions, allow players to return to the field of play multiple times, and make the scrum less important by reducing the number of players in the scrum and allowing feeding.

    These are all proven solutions to the problem

    - you only need to look at rugby league, where they have none of these problems, despite being another professional sport where success is valuable.

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  • 108. At 1:26pm on 19 Aug 2009, easyleesie wrote:

    Makes the Bok armband incident seem insignificant really, Doesn't it?
    Funny how the ol' wheel turns. A month ago, the UK press couldn't stop banging on about the South Africans bringing rugby into disrepute.

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  • 109. At 1:26pm on 19 Aug 2009, Kiki wrote:

    This was well-thought out, organised and strategic cheating. He's lucky to have got only 3 years. Sounds like it's endemic in the English Premiership.

    In saying that, it's also time they sorted out the front-row rule. There's too much leeway in the current rules.

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  • 110. At 1:43pm on 19 Aug 2009, afanofsport wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 111. At 1:44pm on 19 Aug 2009, Ruck_Maker wrote:

    Several people have suggested changing the substitution rules, or having independent doctors, to "ensure this doesn't happen again".

    You are all missing the point. There HAS to be a level of trust in players and teams to play the game in the spirit of the game. Are you seriously suggesting that if a team wanted to substitute an injured player, a doctor could examine him, find him 'insufficiently injured' and make him stay on?
    Welcome to Lawsuit City!

    The rules already permit a substituted front-row player to come back on in the event of injury, and require a team to make substitutions to field a front-row for scrums if they can.

    Teams are within their rights to call for investigations (after the game) if the other team suddenly develops injuries to 3 front-row players and can no longer contest scrums, and we now have an excellent precedent set for serious suspensions and fines if wrong-doing is found to have occurred.

    Refs have to be alert to shenanigans, and teams and coaches have to be aware that dodgy business WILL be looked into and HEAVY punishments levied on those found guilty. (And yes, the disciplinary boards can make judgements on 'the balance of probability', they do NOT need 'proveable in a court of law' evidence.) Then teams will be able to just get on with playing rugby.

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  • 112. At 1:48pm on 19 Aug 2009, Rob wrote:

    Ruck-maker makes a good point.

    First of all the trust should be there. Second the potential punishments must outweigh the benefits of exploiting the rules in this way.

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  • 113. At 2:14pm on 19 Aug 2009, PotHunter19 wrote:

    In the 'good old days' there were no tactical subs allowed, only injured players could be replaced. That just encouraged fake injuries to allow a fresh pair of legs on. Allowing tactical subs was a move in the right direction because it was becoming farcical.

    The blood bin rule is an interesting one because again in the old days a bit of claret meant nothing and everyone just carried on. Forcing a player off to get cleaned up was more of a health and safety issue, if I remember right it came in round about the time Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive and many sports started considering the implications of players contracting HIV through on-field contact with blood. Allowing the cut player back on is probably right in principle because so long as the cut is no longer bleeding he should be able to play on as if it hadn't happened. However it seems we are back in the situation of people abusing the rules.

    The specialist prop rule (while not related to this case) is another interesting one which prevents anyone who is not a specialist prop from packing down in the front row. In the old days (at the risk of sounding like a broken record!) you'd just get one of the flankers moving to prop and everything carried on. Having only ever played in the back-line myself I can't say how 'specialist' the position is but surely, as professionals, it isn't rocket science to teach the rest of the pack how to play prop - at least to the point of being able to scrum safely. Then if you run out of props the farce of uncontested scums can be avoided.

    So, what do the IRB do with the substitution rules? Open it up completely and have a rolling substition system in place so that people can come on and off as needed (like ice-hockey or water polo)? Limit the number of subs, and once you've hit that limit tough (like soccer)?

    Personally I think the number of subs should be reduced and if you've been subbed tactically you can't come back even as a blood or prop replacement. That way subs will revert to being genuine injury cover because if you use them tactically you run the risk of ending up with less than 15 on the park.

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  • 114. At 2:16pm on 19 Aug 2009, AussieinExile wrote:

    It seems not everyone is coming clean on what exactly happened on the day also according to the TIMES Dr Chapman got off on a technicality which raises a lot of questions if a GP was involved:

    "Wendy Chapman, the match-day doctor who was cleared of misconduct, may find her name back in the frame. The appeal hearing exonerated her, but on a legal technicality. She may yet face a disciplinary charge from ERC and an investigation by the General Medical Council.

    At Monday’s appeal, Chapman’s lawyer argued successfully that the original charge related to events on or beside the pitch and did not refer to the administering of a cut or stitches. “The panel’s hands were tied,” a source close to the hearing said.

    Williams had his sentence reduced from a one-year ban to four months after providing evidence that implicated Richards and also named the person who cut him."

    Shouldn't she be suspended from any Rugby involvement? How will this incident, Bathgate and the eye gouging in South Africa affect the Olympic vote in October? Rugby is still not guaranteed a spot in event for 2016 ?

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  • 115. At 2:32pm on 19 Aug 2009, Weaverine wrote:

    Judging by the number of posts referred to the moderator, mine included, somebody is being a bit touchy about a few home truths?

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  • 116. At 2:56pm on 19 Aug 2009, adampsb wrote:

    specialist kickers, who come on to take a kick then leave the field of play, only to be bought backon later. this must not be permitted.

    Be like Football - limited number of substitutes (3 + front row if injured but must be like for like - no 2nd row forwards for uncontested scrums) - you can't be brought back on if you've gon off and scrap the sin bin and just have 2 yellows = a red = you're off the pitch. It should also be compulsory to have a front-row forward on the bench. That way debacles like the Harlequins one would not be able to occur

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  • 117. At 2:57pm on 19 Aug 2009, adampsb wrote:

    How will this incident, Bathgate and the eye gouging in South Africa affect the Olympic vote in October? Rugby is still not guaranteed a spot in event for 2016 ?

    Rugby at the Olympics should be 7s and nothing else

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  • 118. At 3:16pm on 19 Aug 2009, gringo Loco wrote:

    The fact that Burger got off lightly has no bearing on Richards' case.

    I still can't get my head round the "mitigating" sercumstances quoted during the burger case. What has playing 50 times for your country got to do with anything?

    Gouging should be a mandatory year

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  • 119. At 3:18pm on 19 Aug 2009, vcfsantos wrote:

    Would one of the Moderators mind quickly posting to explain the reasons for so many comments being referred? As far as I'm aware I wrote nothing defamatory (i.e. I did not state that anyone was guilty of anything unless they had already been found to be so), certainly didn't use bad language and was not abusive toward anyone.

    I don't seem to be the only person who this has happened to and I'm not used to other blogs being moderated in this way.

    I'm not having a go, but some guidelines beyond the general ones available might be helpful for us.

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  • 120. At 3:25pm on 19 Aug 2009, gringo Loco wrote:

    whereas something like gouging, while uncondonable, might well be more a heat of the moment offence.

    Since it happened in the 1st 30 seconds, I think it was premeditated, but this cannot be proven, no camera to look inside Burger's mind.

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  • 121. At 3:29pm on 19 Aug 2009, Adam wrote:

    No, sorry. The punishment was (or should have been) handed out for the offence - it's tosh to say "well, if he'd said sorry...." - completely seperate issue!

    And, if you take that out of the picture, you make a pretty good case that Richard's pays a heavy price for committing an offence that is, by all accounts, rife in the game.

    I accept that he probably had to be banned, and that, having been caught and having been so blatant, the authorities had no choice but to impose a heafty punishment. But I simply can't feel the moral indignation that many seem to over this. If the authorities want to tackle the issue - as Will Carling said - they need to pull their heads out of their [proverbials] and look at the replacements they should have done in 2001, or before, when Best reported that the use of abuse of said laws (and even fake blood) was rife in the sport.

    Dean Richards was the unlucky one who got caught. His head had to roll, but I wish him well in the future and hope he finds a loop-hole to stay active in the game. And I hope, for the sake of rugby, that the authorities have the balls to take real action to stamp this issue out of the game - instead of sitting on their hands until an incident like this comes along and they are FORCED to take action.

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  • 122. At 4:15pm on 19 Aug 2009, embraboy wrote:

    3 possible solutions:
    1. 15 replacements available to coaches.
    2. Make temporary replacements legal like Gridiron.
    3. Take all the money out of the game and revert to the amateur days.

    Or secret option 4 - Stop Effing Cheating!

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  • 123. At 4:16pm on 19 Aug 2009, embraboy wrote:

    Incidentally, I've been a member for years, why am I being pre-modded?

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  • 124. At 4:16pm on 19 Aug 2009, tonyf wrote:

    I have seen that a comment I have made (no. 30) broke the house rules. I believe that I should have received an email saying what was inappropriate but have not had one. It is interesting that so many comments have been removed by the moderators - an explanation would be appreciated as I believe that this country still has 'free speech' and do not believe that anything I wrote was racist, rude or anything that would result in removal.

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  • 125. At 4:20pm on 19 Aug 2009, englandcomeon wrote:

    Heavz heavz moderation bz the beeb again, and without anz real call for it.
    What is the point of opening things up for debate if nothing is to be said.
    I posted up over 4 hours ago, not a trace of abuse foul language etc etc, but still no post showing up, luv it!

    No censorship here... oh no not us guv??????????????????

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  • 126. At 4:26pm on 19 Aug 2009, Elwynagain wrote:

    During the 1st Test in Durban John Smit, having been replaced too soon, was reportedly heard to yell at his bench "Get me back on" as his team crumbled, and miraculously (or luckily) his replacement twisted his knitting finger and Smit was able to get back on the field and rally his team away from what looked like becoming a Lions victory.

    Can someone tell me what the diffecrence is twixt Deano and the Boks?

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  • 127. At 4:32pm on 19 Aug 2009, tonyf wrote:

    Dear Moderator - or should I say 'Deano'? - we await explanations - quick to remove comments but slow to respond to bloggers.

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  • 128. At 4:42pm on 19 Aug 2009, tonyf wrote:

    Elwynagain - the difference is that Quins got caught - wouldn't have been so obvious if Williams hadn't winked - Brian Moore - radio and Stuart Barnes - Sky - did question the substitution at the time. W.r.t. Boks - difficult to call on a 'muscle injury'.

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  • 129. At 4:46pm on 19 Aug 2009, thinker8 wrote:

    Finally people are realising that pro rugby union is the most cheated at pro team game
    why beacause it is so easy to do and difficult to police
    solutions 6 refs,kicker brougt on,unlimited subs, blocking ete etc NO
    Uncontested scrums,3 people involved at breakdown etc etc NO

    SIMPLY review each game on video and punish all the cheating thats going on and not just violent conduct

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  • 130. At 4:50pm on 19 Aug 2009, Simon Austin wrote:


    I've just been to the Quins pre-season press day, at Hampstead cricket club. Quite interesting. Mark Evans said he would not say anything about Bloodgate/ ERC, but ended up saying quite a lot:

    * Faking of blood injuries and other forms of cheating, like taking off props to get uncontested scrums, were "not uncommon" but that this wasn't an excuse for what had happened.

    * He felt sorry for Dean Richards on a personal level but that he had done the right thing in resigning/ accepting responsibility.

    * Suggested he and the club had not known the truth about the incident until Tom Williams confessed all after the initial hearing in July

    * Said there would be an overhaul of the way the club in run on and off the field in the light of Bloodgate, such as introducing a whistleblowing policy

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  • 131. At 5:19pm on 19 Aug 2009, Richard Irvine-Brown wrote:

    A note on the moderation, all.

    As I understand it, this blog was premoderated as the topic refers to potential illegal or unsporting activity and the punishments thereafter.

    While some aspects of this have yet to be decided, we have to be careful not to publish comments that libel or defame any third parties.

    More than that, this is a very popular blog, with a high volume of responses, therefore please be patient as many comments will have to be read and re-read to make sure they do not infringe our house rules.

    We do not want to remove your comments but please take a moment to use those links in posts above that explain why a comment is referred to the moderators or how and why they may break our house rules.

    We do understand that it is frustrating and we are always reviewing ways to make our moderation processes swifter, given the thousands of comments we receive every day.

    Thanks for your time.

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  • 132. At 5:50pm on 19 Aug 2009, LittleRew wrote:

    There have been a lot of good comments on this blog and it is nice to see that people have degenerated into a slanging match.

    I though I would put my thoughts into the mixing pot.

    Simon - Excellent article.

    I think the ERC should be congratulated for the way they have dealt with the issue and the bans handed out to the physio(?) and Dean Richards I think will set a good example and the fine will affect what they are able to do on the transfer market etc... which will be good as well. I agreed with reduction in Tom Wiliams suspension and the way they handle the situation with him was extremely clever - The initial 12 month ban has made him think!
    I'm also pleased that Harlequins weren't kicked out of the Heinekin Cup as the people that will affect most of all is the fans and they have been hurt enough with what is going on.
    I hope that this will sort out this kind of cheating.

    Cheating on the field is always going to happen and on its funny what adrenalin does to you. It is up to the referee and his touch judges to sort that out and I must admit it has improved tremendously over the last 3/4 years since the Neil Back "Hand of God" :) That does not condone foul play and eye gouging and stamping needs to be addressed and hopefully the IRB will address soon.

    I stopped watching football nearly 20 years ago because of all the play acting and the obvious cheating and rugby league should be congratulated with the way they have regulated their sport which football hasn't done. Hopefuly union have learnt the league lesson and are now applying it (Which I think they have on this occassion).

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  • 133. At 6:47pm on 19 Aug 2009, Topspurinbahrain wrote:

    I realise this is late, but just seen this is in the local press in Bahrain, could not believe what I saw. Then I thought about it; money is the most corrupting influence closely followed by winning, no surprise that it has reached rugby.

    I will now wait for the kids at the local Bahrain rugby club to do the same just as they copy the play acting in football........what a shame.

    So much for the comments after the world cup win of kids leaving football for rugby because it was a game with morals! funny shaped balls.

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  • 134. At 8:14pm on 19 Aug 2009, Causewaycoaster wrote:

    What saddens me most regarding the whole sorry saga is that there is no suggestion, on the part of Richards or the CEO Evans in their respective interviews, of a sense of shame attached to a dishonourable act that has besmirched the reputation of Harlequins and the game of rugby union in general. This sends out the warped message that winning at all costs is all that matters.

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  • 135. At 8:34pm on 19 Aug 2009, Sarjul wrote:

    As a Harlequin's fan I was really proud they got to the quarter finals of the Heineken cup. Now, how do I know they didn't cheat to get there? Imagine the conversation, "Who do you support?" "Quins", "Oh, the blood capsule cheats?"...I am now ashamed to be a Quins supporter. I could only be proud of a team that wins fair and square.

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  • 136. At 8:57pm on 19 Aug 2009, masterRipley wrote:

    For some offences, community service is offered as an alternative. Deano is a good coach whatever his recent misdemeanours. Why not offer to halve his sentence if he chooses to go and give of his expertise in somewhere like Fiji, Togo or West Africa? Justice will be done and help given where it might be most appreciated.

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  • 137. At 10:18pm on 19 Aug 2009, Spaced Invader wrote:

    MasterRipley - how condenscending can a person be?! I find your post incredibly arrogant and misguided.

    Basically lets send our cheats to Africa, and the wonderful community service they'll do there will be worth half their punishment? Wake up man and smell the 21st century.

    Imagine if a Togoan coach did this, and their response was to say 'lets send him to England to teach them a few lessons and half his sentence'. Unbelievable that people still think like you.

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  • 138. At 10:45pm on 19 Aug 2009, tonyf wrote:

    Well, well, well ! Dean Richards has admitted tonight his full part in the blood capsule scandal - he ordered the fake blood substitution and orchestrated the cover-up (see BBC Sport)so he is not the 'scapegoat' as has been reported. I found it sickening that, in today's papers, Will Carling poured his sympathy to Deano. Do I presume that Carling will now come out and say that Deano was wrong and suspension is justified? I haven't seen the words 'sorry for cheating' being used by any party.

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  • 139. At 11:46pm on 19 Aug 2009, captaingameon wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 140. At 00:58am on 20 Aug 2009, Nick Johnson wrote:

    Like many who watched Dean Richards play "back when the earth was young" I am very saddened by this. I always admired him , feeling he put steel in the spine of any team he played on. He needed a ban as did Williams and possibly the medic but doesn't the IRB response smack a little of "piling on"? Richards can't earn a living in the UK or Europe as a coach. Who in NZ or Oz would hire him? I think he has learned his lesson to put it mildly. Agree with everything about malice aforethought but I feel that by being all "zero tolerance" on the matter the IRB is trying to make up for the shameful decisions made concerning Burger and Botha (whose offence was to my mind clearly designed to alter the game's flow and actually in terms of impact on the injured player far greater) as well as DeVries's "toys from the pram" attitude over the whole thing. Both broader incidents brought the game into disrepute but the penalties have been vastly different.

    Anyhow, this whole blood injury thing is getting out of hand. It smacks rather of the faking an injury and expecting the opposition to surrender a promising move by kicking the ball out that we saw in a recent Football World cup. Play the game; if you're injured either get off and get help or be subbed. If it is a blood injury, you shouldn't be replaced by someone who has already left the field. If the team is out of subs tough luck. An attempt to manage player safety has become a cheat's charter

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  • 141. At 02:48am on 20 Aug 2009, Ian Shuter wrote:

    As someone who played for over 20 years in the lower, social end of the game, I knew professionalism would bring our great game to this, I always hold Rugby up as an example of sportsmanship and respect to the football (soccer) players I ref and who play in the local league here.

    No I can no longer do this, at least Ronaldo only fell over to get a free kick.

    Substitutions in Rugby should be:
    1. Made permanent - once replaced that is it no matter what - forget independent doctors, if they have to play a man down while players are patched up then so be it.
    2. Clubs should be forced to have at least 4 front row players on the bench so that they cannot cheat their way out of a game where the opposition are better in the scrum. For this one bring in Independent doctors.

    A very disappointed former player and huge fan of the game and the great Dean Richards who in my opinion had no peers as a player what a shame a man who showed such courage and leadership on the field would stoop to low.

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  • 142. At 07:11am on 20 Aug 2009, illustriousmickyboy wrote:

    Good to see former Policeman Dean Richards hasn't lost any of his skills honed for years as a member of the boys in blue

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  • 143. At 07:47am on 20 Aug 2009, dazk55 wrote:

    3 years far too much, compared to other recent bans..Cocaine...?

    But I am dissapointed in Deano, an ex-policeman hiding the truth, wow, shocking.

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  • 144. At 08:51am on 20 Aug 2009, Tykesabroad wrote:

    Some of the posts here saying the punishment fits the crime are really living in some kind of fantasy world, as many have pointed out eye gouging is so abhorant it should be a criminal charge with a custodial sentance. What Richards did was wrong, but lets be realistic, this professional bending and breaking of the rules goes on in many guises by many coaches and if you do not believe that then that just confirms you live in fantasy world!

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  • 145. At 09:13am on 20 Aug 2009, rugbypat wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 146. At 11:52am on 20 Aug 2009, cornishandy71 wrote:

    Its blatent cheating and the club should be made to pay by being banned from European competitions. I can't believe Dean Richards is considering an appeal, especially after coming out now and saying what he did. In my opinion he should be banned for life, though I would be surprised if he did get another job in the game after his ban. This is what he will be remembered for, not his illustrious plying career. It serves you right Richards.

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  • 147. At 12:08pm on 20 Aug 2009, Tim wrote:

    I agree that the punishment should match the crime, and the fact that others have gone unpunished for similar behaviour is irrelevant to this particular case.

    However, the case does highlight a need to sort the rules out to remove the incentive for this kind of cheating in future. These rules are honour-based. Blood injuries, returning substitutes, uncontested scrums. All of these rules assume that each team will always act honourably within the rules. This is clearly not the case, and the rules must be changed.

    The independent doctor for blood injuries is all very well, but judging by how easily most people get sick notes for work, I can't see it making much difference. Why not make the bleeding player leave the field, but have no temporary substitute? In fact, why not just take football's example and have a set number of substitutions and no more? You would have to make an exception for front row players, who are in any case not well-known for their kicking skills. In the case of uncontested scrums, the law could simply state that any team unable to field 3 suitably-experienced front row players automatically loses restart-type scrums, e.g. 5-metre scrums, ball unplayable in the ruck, but obviously not penalty scrums, such as knock-ons or accidental offside. That would provide ample incentive to keep your front row on the field!

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  • 148. At 12:41pm on 20 Aug 2009, G_K___ wrote:

    "Some people have cast Dean Richards as the scapegoat"


    Just to broaden the sample range: I have cast him in the role of "fat cheat".

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  • 149. At 2:05pm on 20 Aug 2009, pmatson wrote:

    Quins and Richards are a disgrace to European rugby. Richards deserves every minutes of the 3 year ban but it should be a worldwide ban and not just a European ban. Harlequins should also be kicked out of this years Heineken cup too. Also Will Carling's comments are a joke and show his complete bias. He needs to seriously wake up. The fact that they had the blood capsules at the game shows this was a well planned act of cheating with plenty of time for them to consider their actions. Delighted Leinster hung on to beat them. Richards needs to show an ounce of dignity and not appeal his punishment.

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  • 150. At 2:12pm on 20 Aug 2009, ManBlogger wrote:

    As a Quins fan and someone who was at the game I am disgusted by the whole episode. Whether the sport is professional or not it is still a sport and supported by people like me, and the others commenting here, because we love it as a sport. I am so glad Quins did not win the game and although I rate Dean Richards, not just as Quins DoR, but also from the great days that I supported him in his playing years, I think that 3 years is not a long ban. At the end of the day, if his departure is an enormous blow to Quins then we deserve it. If it is not then that will show the depth and resilience of our club.
    There is no place for cheating like this in Rugby and I would like to see the authorities warn everyone worldwide that any form of cheating, particularly after this episode, will be punished by longer bans, bigger fines and more publicity.
    Let everyone remember that without fans no club team, player or official would exist, it's about the sport not just about winning!

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  • 151. At 2:54pm on 20 Aug 2009, rugbypat wrote:

    Mark Evans behaviour is questionable at best. I don't know how to phrase it without being censored, but he should certainly resign.

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  • 152. At 3:11pm on 20 Aug 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    rugbypat...interesting what you say about Evans.

    I spoke to him yday, and he insists he told the truth at the first hearing in July. He suggests he trusted what Williams/ Richards told him - ie that nothing untoward had happened. When he subsequently found out more, after Williams decided to appeal, he enocouraged the player to tell the truth and supported him.

    So I suppose that raises the question: SHOULD he have known more than he did, as chief executive of the club?

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  • 153. At 6:18pm on 20 Aug 2009, hammerinneath wrote:

    Where has the class gone in the game ?
    Sure, cheating has been around for a long time, but I doubt if a few years ago the likes of Brian Moore would have setled for a "blood capsule". I think maybe a mouthful of fruity Chilean Shiraz would have been more his style to fake a blood injury !

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  • 154. At 11:02pm on 20 Aug 2009, rroffe wrote:

    It's a terrible shame that there is such a scandal bringing the game into disrepute. However, there is still the excitement of a new Premiership season to look forwad to- will Leicester be able to win for a third consecutive year?

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  • 155. At 07:46am on 21 Aug 2009, horndeans_special wrote:


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  • 156. At 09:13am on 21 Aug 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    Have you listened to Matt Dawson's excellent interview with Dean Richards? Very interesting...

    He admits the biggest mistake he, and the club, made was to lie at the first hearing in July.

    "We shouldn't have done that and everyone would have been far more comfortable going in there, holding their hands up and disclosing everything."

    And this is what he says about the incident itself:

    "It isn't something we'd rehearsed, it was something on the spur of the moment. Then when we went through with it on the day and I was stood on the touchline I thought 'oh my god'.

    "I saw Tom coming off, with blood running from his mouth and walking like Bruce Grobelaar and I was mortified looking at it.

    "I knew at that point, instantly, that something would come of it. It wasn't very well done at all, it was Fred Karno Circus to be honest."

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  • 157. At 1:01pm on 21 Aug 2009, Fossewayfox wrote:

    There can be no doubt that what Deanno did was wrong and that his reputation as a rugby great has been badly (I hope not fatally) tarnished by this shabby affair. But listening to the interview with Matt Dawson on 5 Live last night my respect for the man actually increased. Let's face it - this kind of thing goes on at every level in every sport: is the use of a blood capsule so very different from withdrawing a prop with a thigh strain to ensure uncontested scrums? The attempted cover up was ill considered and badly botched and for that Deanno is paying a very high price. If Richards (or the others involved) had more confidence in the blazers that still run the game (BOFs I think you called them, Will) then perhaps they'd have made a clean breast of things at the first hearing in the hope of getting away with a more leniant punishment. That said, you have to hand it to the Board - by dishing out a 12 months ban to Williams they almost guaranteed he'd appeal and in doing so spill the beans: this was probably the only way the Board was ever going to break the conspiracy of silence and identify the real culprits. Let's show a bit of compassion for Deano though - he's done wrong but he's held his hands up and admitted it without whinging or trying to drag others down with him. Despite what's happened I still think he deserves respect for that.

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  • 158. At 1:39pm on 21 Aug 2009, cynicalyorkie1 wrote:

    Rugby Union..." the game played by gentlemen".....but with the ethics of City Bankers!!

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  • 159. At 4:27pm on 21 Aug 2009, curmudgeon61 wrote:

    I do hope this debunks the myth of the Baron de Coubertain 19th century olympic sporting 'idealism' that winning is not the important thing. It's the only thing; thank you Vince Lombardi. People will want to win not for the money but because they want to win. Cheating is a symptom of when that will to win clashes with the rules and if you get caught you get punished. But let's not have any sport pretending that cheating doesn't happen in their sport. It's part of the human condition.

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  • 160. At 11:41pm on 21 Aug 2009, rugbymanoz wrote:

    i feel very sorry for the physio in all of this. it appears all he has done is take the player off the field - it looks as though he didnt give the capsule either. for this he has lost his reputation and it looks like the england gig, all for following instructions. yes he did cover up in the first enquiry and does need to be punished for his role in that but to take away his livelihood isnt fair. its commendable to try and clean up what is rampant in all contact sport codes and i support the sanction placed on richards but brennan is hard done by!

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  • 161. At 07:21am on 22 Aug 2009, rucknroll wrote:

    Richards should be banned for life, he wants to return to the game!!! Rugby deserves better, this is taking cheating to a new level.

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  • 162. At 09:35am on 22 Aug 2009, FRANKL1E wrote:

    When Rugby failed to publicly censure Neil Back - It looked the other way and allowed Professionalism to replace sportsmanship - Professional Sport stole our game - Stole our Sport - Stole our Rugby Grounds -

    Now we have Sports Businesses with the morals of the financial industry.

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  • 163. At 12:42pm on 22 Aug 2009, Spiny Norman wrote:

    This all seems very amateur - perhaps they should hire a soccer consultant who really does know how to fake an injury. I refer, of course, to Neil Warnock, who pulled the stunt after having three players sent off, and got away with it.

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  • 164. At 6:34pm on 22 Aug 2009, redordedken wrote:

    Pigsty Hill - not sure what Neil Warnock got away with exactly; as far as I remember it the opponents West Brom were awarded the match 3-0. Two of his Blades players, involved never played for the club again!

    Anyway, back on topic I am a 'Quins supporter and am completely disgusted, embarrassed and dismayed at everything that has happened since the Leinster game. I was there at the time and was a bit confused that Nick Evans could be brought back on - I didn't realise the substitution rules could be twisted and this way at the time of the incident.
    Deano has done so much for Harlequins over the last 4 years or so from getting us back into the Prem and steadily improving the team every year right up to finishing second in the league last season and reaching the HCQF's, not to mention the crop of England-qualified players coming through the academy. Deano and Mark Evans also rebuilt the reputation of the club from one of 'pim's-drinking bankers' to one of a family club with a very decent ground. Many oppo fans have congratulated us on the achievements of the club and the atmosphere at the Stoop on match day.
    I thought we had the beginnings of a team of both backroom staff and players which was really going to mean something in the years to come.

    Is this all now going to go into the dustbin?

    We got caught cheating, and deserve the punishments handed out, even if all forms of cheating are rife in the game - it had to be stopped sometime. As a result we lose possibly the best coach currently in the domestic game, we lose the respect of other rugby fans and the respect of ourselves. It's a miserable situation. I would not be surprised to see ME not last til the end of this either. I wonder what Nick Evans makes of it all?... well at least he's contracted for another two years.

    In a one way I'm totally gutted and embarrassed, and actually glad that I couldn't afford to buy a season ticket this year. I had to wear my away shirt last week when I was away on holiday in rugby country Ireland because I had no clean clothes left. I knew what everyone who saw me was thinking - cheats! - because I could feel burning looks through my back. It will be a very long while before I can wear my shirt again with pride.

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  • 165. At 11:50am on 23 Aug 2009, berkshireferret wrote:

    In the uncovering of any wrongdoing the first to be caught usually bears the brunt of the flak. I am a huge fan of Dean Richards and am disappointed he fell into this form of subterfuge. However, this sort of action does Rugby Union no good at all - it had to come out and it needs to be hunted down and put to the sword.

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  • 166. At 00:01am on 24 Aug 2009, njr1330 wrote:

    Re: the Dean Richards matter. From the photos that I've seen, the substance coming from the player's mouth doesn't look remotely like blood. It looks like he's spitting out a particularly dodgy red wine... for that much blood to come out of the mouth, you'd have to have your tongue cut out!
    There's only one word for it; 'dishonest' and those who are dishonest have no place in sport, professional or amateur.

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  • 167. At 6:09pm on 15 Oct 2009, TinchyBeast wrote:

    Quite simply, let the whole thing go. Let those who offended carry out their suspensions and bans but leave the club alone. Lets get back down to what's important, the rugby!!

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