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Richards' reputation hits new low

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Simon Austin | 18:21 UK time, Tuesday, 25 August 2009

If Dean Richards thought his reputation had taken enough of a battering in the wake of "Bloodgate", he was sorely mistaken.

The full 38-page transcript of last week's appeals hearing has now been published and it will make uncomfortable reading for even Richards' staunchest supporters.

Tom Williams' no-holds barred testimony portrays a bullying, dictatorial director of rugby who masterminded the faking of the winger's blood injury and the subsequent cover-up.

Richards put his side of the story to Matt Dawson in a frank BBC 5 live Sport interview last week, but these latest revelations will make it even harder for the England legend to recover his standing in the game.

Harlequins chief executive Mark Evans is also badly damaged by the winger's evidence.

When I attended Harlequins' pre-season press day last week, Evans attempted to draw a line under the events of last April, suggesting he had supported the player in his appeal as soon as he was made aware of what had happened.

The 25-year-old player contradicts this, claiming that Evans put immense pressure on him not to give "full disclosure" about what had happened in the closing minutes of the Heineken Cup quarter-final.

This means Evans' position at the club will now come under intense scrutiny.

The scale of the cover-up revealed by Williams has further sullied the reputation of Dean Richards.jpg

It is quite clear who Williams believes is the real villain of the piece though, portraying Richards as a dominant, feared figure at The Stoop. "There was no doubt that he was the boss and that he ran the show," Williams told last week's appeal committee in Dublin.

"He did not discuss his decisions with me. He gave directions and these were followed. I did not feel able to challenge his authority - I do not think that I have ever seen another player challenge Dean's authority."

To illustrate this, he recalls how Richards criticised "my going down injured during play and ordered me to attend a camp with the Harlequins rugby league side to harden me up" following a League One match against Plymouth.

Richards denied this story at the hearing, as well as disputing telling the player he was on the fringes of the England squad following an impressive 2008/9 season.

Williams argues it was this fear of Richards that meant he went along with the fake blood scam.

"In hindsight, if I had refused to bite the capsule Dean would have seen that I had disobeyed him and might refuse to play me again," he says. "This could have spelled the end of my career at Harlequins."

Williams recalls the incident, explaining: "With 10 minutes left and the score standing at 6-5 to Leinster... Dean told me to tell Steph Brennan that I would be coming off for blood.

"I understood from what Dean said that I would be coming off at some point before the end of the match with a fake injury, but I had no idea how this would work."

Brennan and Richards disputed this, saying the decision to use the capsule was actually made after the player had entered the fray - and the appeals panel believed their version of events.

Brennan admitted he had faked injuries on four previous occasions, at the direction of Richards, although the former England forward said he could only remember two or three times when this had happened.

Intriguingly, we are told that Brennan had a capsule in his bag "having purchased a quantity... from a joke shop at Clapham Junction (a London train station) on the direction of Dean Richards for use... in faking blood injuries during matches."

Williams remembers Brennan saying something "along the lines of 'do the right thing'" as he handed him the capsule and admits he was faced with a huge dilemma at this moment.

Former Quins physio Steph Brennan (left) gestures to Tom Williams as he leaves the field with the infamous fake blood streaming from his mouth

He also explains the infamous wink he gave team-mate as he left the pitch, explaining it was intended to reassure Jim Evans, who had urged him to stay on the pitch and "tough it out".

Williams' testimony vividly recounts the panic in the dressing room at the end of the match, as the fifth official checked whether the blood coming from the player's mouth was real, while angry Leinster officials banged on the door demanding to see him.

This is when Williams says his mouth was cut with a scalpel by club doctor Wendy Chapman - at his request - to make it appear like he had suffered a real injury.

The player defends Chapman's actions, insisting she "was as much a victim in these matters as me", because of the extreme stress she was under.

Indeed, Williams reveals that Chapman vehemently urged him not to disclose the incident at his appeal, fearing the "potential damage to her career", but that he decided he must come clean about everything that had happened.

The evidence about the behaviour of Richards and Quins in the days and weeks after the match is arguably as damning as Williams' testimony about the actual incident.

He says he was left with no choice but to sign a statement drafted by Richards and was not offered independent legal advice. "I basically did what I was told by Dean", he says.

Then Richards told him he must not tell the lawyers "what had really happened", while the club also urged him against full disclosure.

Williams says Evans explained this could lead to the club being expelled from the Heineken Cup, losing sponsors and Chapman and Brennan being struck off by the club and then suing Quins.

"I understand that Mark then said this would be my responsibility, that I would be regarded by others as the person responsible and that it would be extremely difficult for me at the club should I choose this course of action."

Eventually, club and player reached a compromise agreement, whereby he would make a "partial disclosure" in exchange for a new four-year contract, extra holidays and an apology from Harlequins.

Williams hardly emerges from this part of the episode as an angel. After all, he admits he unsuccessfully pushed the club to pay off his mortgage in exchange for withholding the truth.

There was then an about-turn by the club on 8 August, when chairman Charles Jillings called Williams to tell him Richards had resigned and that the club would now fully support him in "full disclosure".

That wasn't an end to the matter though, as we know, and these latest damaging revelations ensure Bloodgate will rumble on.

Richards and Evans might have attempted to draw a line under the affair last week, but the publication of Williams' revelations means they are unlikely to be afforded that luxury.

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

Comments

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  • 1. At 7:40pm on 25 Aug 2009, rickeo wrote:

    WOW...

    I knew it was looking bad, but I can't believe that was what happened!
    I'm pretty speechless.

    As far as Rugby goes, Dean Richards Mark Evans should be locked up and away from the game, to never grace it's presence again.

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  • 2. At 7:43pm on 25 Aug 2009, boils wrote:

    Oh dear.

    Richards must be finished. Evans is hugely discredited and Dr Chapman should be kicked out too. Talk about breaking her most basic oath.

    And Williams needed to grow some...

    Credit to the hearing for giving such a strong initial sentence to flush out the rest of the guilty.

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  • 3. At 8:04pm on 25 Aug 2009, Sparkle wrote:

    This just gets worse...how Richards can ever be allowed to work in rugby again beats me!

    At minimum Harlequins should be thrown out of the Heineken Cup for 2 years.

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  • 4. At 9:17pm on 25 Aug 2009, Chris wrote:

    Heck I'm no Quins fan but goodness sake let's just take a moment to keep some sanity.
    Quins (and they won't be the only club to have done this) exploited the lax regulations. Good grief its not rocket science for the IRB or RFU or ERC to have the necessary check and balances in place to have prevented this sort of abuse. Where is the criticism of the IRB or RFU or ERC.
    For years now we have had clubs abusing the uncontested scrums situation (even in Heineken Cup matches) yet no action from the IRB or RFU or ERC.
    The whole area of substitution in rugby is a shambles and its long past the time the 'powers that be' got a grip of it.
    It truly amazes me that Deano can get banned to 2 years or whatever and yet gouging, yes blantant gouging, is punished by a number of weeks. Just who the hell is running rugby ? There was no danger of Deano's activities blinding someone was there ?

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  • 5. At 9:19pm on 25 Aug 2009, vcfsantos wrote:

    I'm not going to defend Dean Richard's conduct throughout this sorry episode, but I do feel that people - this blogger inlcuded - are jumping to the side of a player who was fully complicit in what went on and who is an adult capable of making his own decisions.

    I'm afraid I feel that the blogger is over-hyping this transcript somewhat. It is interesting that Dean Richards is recorded as disputing a number of the statements made by Williams. On one occasion Richards' version of events was not even heard (as it would not have been relevant to the appeal) and on another occasion it is recorded that the appeal panel actually felt that Richards' version of events has more credibility than Williams'.

    Ultimately, I do not trust Richards' and I feel that he has bought much shame on the game of Rugby (or possibly exposed the shame that has been there for some time). That said, I also see no reason why I should trust a young rugby player who was not man enough to say 'No' when asked to cheat. Both have lied for the majority of this process. It's hard for me to suddenly assume that we're hearing the whole truth and nothing but the truth. What remains is Richard's career in ruins (possibly justified) and Williams to play professional sport again after a few months. Doe3sn't seem fair to me.

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  • 6. At 9:43pm on 25 Aug 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    Thanks for your comments so far.

    vcfsantos - you make a fair point, this transcript consists mainly of Williams' testimony, so it is largely subjective.

    But Richards/ Evans etc were allowed to dispute any of his testimony at the hearing, and the transcript makes mention of the times when they did so.

    So they didn't deny trying to stop Williams giving "full disclosure" about what had happened against Leinster, according to the transcript.

    This certainly doesn't reflect well on Evans, who seemed to be portraying himself as an innocent bystander in Bloodgate at the Quins press conferences last week.

    It's true that Williams was trying to save his own skin at the hearing, but nevertheless he paints a damning picture of Richards - dictatorial/ not approachable/ directed the blood scam/ tried to cover it up/ urged a young player not to tell the truth about what had happened.

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  • 7. At 9:57pm on 25 Aug 2009, Spaced Invader wrote:

    Richards has deeply shamed himself. Even in an interview with The Sunday Times when he admitted his guilt, he said he was carried away in the 'heat of the moment' - his exact phrase. I'm sorry, but did those blood capsules just happen to exist?! This is pre-meditated cheating, akin to an athlete taking performance enhancing drugs - after all they plan to cheat to win too.

    As for Williams, well, is there anything remotely creditable about this man? A 26 year old sportsman who was bullied by Richards. So he was only following orders. There's a phrase that sends a shiver down the spine.

    Personally, whatever their respective bans, I hope and pray neither are seen in professional rugby again.

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  • 8. At 10:24pm on 25 Aug 2009, auntCheeks wrote:

    How has Deano got himself into this? He was a legend when I was growing up and playing back row. It is truly sad - I just wish there was an explanation besides the fact that they cheated - make no bones, this is now about money. Let's hope money does not dictate rugby like other sports - or does it already?

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  • 9. At 10:44pm on 25 Aug 2009, Dominic wrote:

    The longer this goes on the harder and harder it gets for me to try and support Quins in this. For the last 5 or 6 years I've supported Quins through the good times and the bad, however at this point it just seems to get worse and worse. Richards in my opinion seems to be a very good coach strictly from a results point of view but an awful person. Evans seems to just be like a politician doing anything to save his own skin regardless of who he hurts on the way. Williams seems to have no guts at all only speaking up when his neck was on the line. Also quite worried as surely other players must have known this was going on surely the senior players i.e. skinner, robshaw, easter should have offered the more impressionable player some support.

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  • 10. At 10:46pm on 25 Aug 2009, kenadams777 wrote:

    Great blog. This is the sort of story i would expect in a fiction book. Im a non-rugby fan but this just seems crazy. Very amusing to the outsider though. "Fake blood from a joke shop"!!!!!! Quality.

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  • 11. At 10:48pm on 25 Aug 2009, bornsportsmad wrote:

    I remember in my school playing days being told by my coach, before a sevens game, that I should fake an injury during the game as he wanted to bring on another player during the game. I was deeply uncomfortable with this, but did it anyway when told to during a break in play even though I was sure everyone present knew. You have to consider the relative positions of power - in my case a schoolboy instructed by his rugby coach; in Williams, a young man with financial obligations specifically instructed by his employer. Add in the overriding imperative to give all for 'the team' at all levels of rugby, and it would in fact be very surprising if Williams had felt able to refuse. His attempts to save his skin may be unedifying, but he is far less culpable than Richards, Evans and Harlequins as a whole.

    Surely Richards can never be allowed near the England job in future?

    As a last thought, does anyone else see the similarities with the Lewis Hamilton/McLaren cheating incident from a few months back?

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  • 12. At 10:51pm on 25 Aug 2009, cleverick wrote:

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

  • 13. At 11:03pm on 25 Aug 2009, Andy Skinner wrote:

    What Richards did can't be condoned but it's not exactly the worst piece of sporting skullduggery I've seen. The player should have said nothing and got on with it as people do in clubs and companies across the land. Can't see too many clubs wishing to employ him now.

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  • 14. At 11:17pm on 25 Aug 2009, UlstermanJonny wrote:

    I'm not a huge fan of Richards anyway, but do you think part of this might be that it's better one man goes down instead of the whole team? Do you thing Richards has put himself down as the fall guy?

    I mean too many people HAD to be in on it, there's no way that one man wields enough 'power' to convince that many people to go against their conscience and cheat - otherwise the set up at Harlequins is full of weak individuals, which I highly doubt!

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  • 15. At 11:22pm on 25 Aug 2009, chris_77 wrote:

    Have people not had enough of villifying Richards. You would think it was some sort of heinous crime he has committed. Why can people not see that rugby substitutions have been abused for years.It's not like this is suddenly the first time it has happened (maybe one of the most blatant) but I haven't lost any respect for Deano (I'm not a Quins or Tigers fan), he was just trying to win a game by bending/breaking the rules. How does this compare with a footballer who blatantaly dives to win a pen or feigns injury to get a player sent off? In my view it's not as bad as those examples or an eye gouging incident.
    The ban is completely OTT. The authorities really need to get a handle on the substitution laws. Just have a certain number of subs (like Rugby League) allowed all game and if somebody gets injured, then tough you play with 14. To stop uncontested scrums, ensure that each team has a replacement for each member of the front row and if they run out of front row replacements and an injury occurs, then you play with 14. Pretty simple.

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  • 16. At 11:25pm on 25 Aug 2009, 44 MORE YEARS AND MORE wrote:

    It looked so suspicious at the time and worse now - good to see the honest Quins fans realising how outrageous the behaviour of their "team" has been - from Chief Exec all the way down.

    So glad justice was done and Leinster won; surely Quins will be banned from HC.

    If Williams is to be believed - a big if - they Evans must get sacked too.

    I foresee players seeing Quins as the last team they would want to join and thats what they deserve.

    cheerio Deano you are finished

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  • 17. At 11:29pm on 25 Aug 2009, TWSI wrote:

    Tom Williams has clearly turned down a great deal of money to tell his view of the truth (truth is not always an absolute) so I think those down on him are short and need more than insults to back any position he was still lying/unreliable.

    All those journalists who passed on the view without thought or corroboration that Richards was manning up for something he did not do but happened on his watch rather than jumping before we all demanded it should resign (but of course they will not only sports managers ever take walks for incompetence and lying which is why we should spare some but not all the sanctimony).

    Quite how Evans and the rest escape virtually unscathed is beyond me. Really should he be allowed near a rugby team again? Maybe a polite word that he or Quins go?

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  • 18. At 11:40pm on 25 Aug 2009, RainyDayDreamAway wrote:

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

  • 19. At 11:49pm on 25 Aug 2009, Thescribe wrote:

    As a person who belives Rugby to be the greatest of all team sports, partly due to its 'supposed honesty' and team ethos, and an avid fan ever since starting up as a 10 year old at school,and playing for the best part of 25 years, I am appalled by what has gone on. Has professionalism had such an impact on this wonderful game, that it has stooped this low in the pursuit of victory and success. For years, I would defend it's honesty and integrity against friends who preferred the 'round ball' game, because of it's diving and cheating and backchatting to the ref and now this has happened. You could throw in 'eye gouging' for good measure too, which is just good old fashioned thuggery and hooliganism. Rugby has lost whatever morale high ground it ever possessed.
    Dean Richards and Mark Evans should never be allowed near a rugby pitch/club in a working capacity ever again, whatever they have done or achieved in the past. What were they thinking of in Richards case and as for Evans he bears ultimate responsibility as being the man in charge. Do the honourable thing Evans and resign! They are a disgrace to the game. As for Tom williams, he just comes across as weak and pathetic and easily led and no one in there right minds would want to have him in there club as a player.
    Harlequins should be ashamed of themselves and a 2 year ban fromt he Heineken Cup is the least they deserved. Disgraceful antics of this nature deserve harsh penalties and they should take there medicine, shut up and put there house in order. And to think I used to watch the regularly in the late eighties/early nineties when I lived in London. The so called 'toffs' club. They are no better than objects one finds in the gutter.
    An appalling episode for rugby indeed.

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  • 20. At 00:02am on 26 Aug 2009, EAS1975 wrote:

    Williams should've had the strength of character to not peform this act on the field. He says he feared he would never play for the club again if he didn't, but why would you want to play for a club that did this anyway?

    I suppose after a century of sporting apartheid against Rugby League we shouldn't really be surprised by these pathetic antics in Rugby union.

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  • 21. At 00:16am on 26 Aug 2009, McTadgit wrote:

    "There was no doubt that he was the boss and that he ran the show," Williams told last week's appeal committee in Dublin.

    "He did not discuss his decisions with me. He gave directions and these were followed. I did not feel able to challenge his authority - I do not think that I have ever seen another player challenge Dean's authority."'

    What are you talking about Austin? How many players feel they able to challenge Alex Fergusons authority? Or Shankly's? Or Martin Johnson's? Or Graham Henry's? Frankly, this makes Williams sound like a squirming worm trying rather than a professional sportsman. Can managers be successful if anyone doubts that they run the show? I think not. You are clutching at straws.

    I played rugby at school, I remember players leaving the field with tactical 'injuries'. It's always happened, at all levels, always will do. I can also remember doing press ups in the snow as a punishment for dropping the ball and so on. Was that being bullied by dictatorial games masters? No. Just part of the process of toughening up and part of the bending of rules that happens in all sport - and in life generally. Stop being so sanctimonious

    The post match cover up does indeed leave a bad taste in the mouth and the deliberate cutting of a player was a grave error of judgement, but stop the blanket hysterical journalism. International rugby is played by hard men, always has been always will be.

    What would Willie John McBride or Colin Meads make of your blog or indeed Tom Williams I wonder?

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  • 22. At 00:25am on 26 Aug 2009, JoDan wrote:

    If Quins had won the game and then the Cup, what would have happened, would the cup have been void or would they have replayed other games?

    I think Deano is a legend, got amazing results and the games in France last year when Quins won was an amazing day out.

    He should be allowed back when his ban is served as he has great skills and experience.

    I just wonder how many other clubs are now waiting for a letter or call about similar incidents in the past as I fail to believe Quins are the only club who've done this

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  • 23. At 00:38am on 26 Aug 2009, Chad Secksington wrote:

    I do love that there are some in the Rugby union fraternity (I'm looking in your direction Chris77) still trying to peddle the "at least we're not as bad as football" line.

    The one thing football fans have never done is claimed their sport as a paragon of virtue, what irks most of us is the holier than thou attitude in the media whenever football is compared to rugby union and cricket. You'll forgive feelings of schadenfreude when Rugby union turns out not to be the ultimate gentlemens game after all.

    Chris77 actually appears to equate diving to win a freekick with deliberately trying to damage someones eyes, which almost beggars belief.

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  • 24. At 00:52am on 26 Aug 2009, Alex wrote:

    Its wrong what Williams did, but I have to say that any player in his position would probably have done the same. The power than some people can have over others, the way Dean Richards and co. would've spun various explanations and justifications etc, honestly he woulda felt so bullied and isolated by the whole farce, and I dare any other person to have done any differently. As for Deano, well, if there is any heart in him he probs needs therapy after all this! BUT, I wonder how much this has happened in the past, at ANY level of rugby, in any part of the world............

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  • 25. At 02:50am on 26 Aug 2009, mawsley8 wrote:

    Not telling Williams the full extent of the charges for the initial disciplinary hearing is worthy of a long ban in itself. Not knowing the seriousness of what was going on is the reason he didn't go to the PRA in the first place, why did the girl friend or parents did not point him in that direction.

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  • 26. At 03:53am on 26 Aug 2009, G_K___ wrote:

    A cheat, a bully, a liar, and a man who was perfectly willing to let young Tom Williams carry the can for him, when he still thought he could get away with it.

    Words fail me, they really do.

    If this piece of pondlife is an "England hero" then it's a sad day indeed for the country.

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  • 27. At 04:23am on 26 Aug 2009, dubaidoss wrote:

    Many people have already made the same point I would about Deano, I loved him in the game and now believe that he should never return.

    The real point I want to make is about a line in Simon's blog that is almost passed over - "Williams hardly emerges from this part of the episode as an angel. After all, he admits he unsuccessfully pushed the club to pay off his mortgage in exchange for withholding the truth." This is not the action of an innocent 'bullying' victim, but one of a cynical accomplice in the incident who spotted another opportunity for personal gain.

    The facts on Deano speak for themselves and my feelings don't change about the severity of the punishment needed, but the failed blackmail attempt by Williams brings some of his evidence into question.

    No place for either of them in the game anymore in my opinion.

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  • 28. At 04:43am on 26 Aug 2009, caymankai wrote:

    The whole incident is just sad for the game of Rugby.

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  • 29. At 06:42am on 26 Aug 2009, draven216 wrote:

    Is anyone really surprised by all of this? I played rugby for many years prior to the professional era and I am disturbed by how far the standards in the game have fallen. The game I love is changed forever into a product where players, and coaches, are under huge pressure to succeed - livelihoods depend on it!

    Can you imagine the pressure in that dressing room at the end of the game?

    I am not a Quinns fan I consider myself a rugby man but I fear everything in the game is now changed, changed utterly. We have gone too far down a road and where is it leading us? The professional era - a good thing? I think not.

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  • 30. At 07:41am on 26 Aug 2009, wyn_morgan wrote:

    Clearly the dust hasn't settled yet. I just wonder how Williams can stay at Quins after this. Surely his position is untenable.

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  • 31. At 07:42am on 26 Aug 2009, Irishjuff wrote:

    It is indeed a sad story. Is it simply a coincidence that Richards comes from Leicester? A great club and fabulous supporters but perhaps the first English club to take a more 'professional' approach to the game? Remember Back at the Millennium Stadium against Munster? I am not suggesting that Leicester are unique or the source of all evil but might it be that Richards learned his 'win at all costs' approach from his years there?

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  • 32. At 08:09am on 26 Aug 2009, sportingpunter wrote:

    I feel sorry for Williams - he was put in an impossible situation. There are very few players who would have been big enough to say now when put on the spot. You can do that if you are a superstar but most players are just trying to earn a living in the short time they have in the game. Deano used to be a hero of mine but I'm afraid he is out of the game for ever now.

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  • 33. At 08:42am on 26 Aug 2009, Exiledscot52 wrote:

    Having spent a long time playing coaching and refereeing Rugby not at the exalted level of the premiership my comments are that the cheating is rife through out the game. Teams witha young, fast team stating they dont have enough trained and experienced front row players, uncontested scrums, much to their advantage. Or the team taking a prop of with a back injury..... The RFU and the IRB must address this, to have such deviousness at level 9 and 10 is not good, what is not being discovered higher up the food chain.

    From memory Richards was a policeman before becoming a professional rugby player and coach. His behaviour does not reflect well on either profession.

    The Judge Jeff Blackets refusal to open the can is also a disservice to rugby in general. All names should be named or Richards is being made a scapegoat which is unfair.

    Rugby must come clean.

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  • 34. At 08:49am on 26 Aug 2009, williamshankly wrote:

    Perhaps an investigative journalist (there must one or two left in the UK) should interview a few retired villains and ask them if P.C. Richards ever required unusual actions or statements on their part when hauling them off the paddock in the general direction of the nick.

    Nick ? British slang for 'prison', an exceptionally unpleasant concept and one seldom merited, if opinion surveys of gentlemen leaving court are to be believed.

    Of course, in reality, judicial lightening doesn't strike twice,
    and the integrity of our police forces remains beyond question.

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  • 35. At 08:52am on 26 Aug 2009, adampsb wrote:

    There is more than a tinge of self-pitying justification about Williams' testimony. He didn't have to bite the blood capsule but chose to because he was happy to cheat as long as he didn't get caught.

    Yes Richards may be dictatorial but that isn't necessarily a bad thing in sport. The authority fo top managers is rarely challenged and if it is you are out of the club otherwise the manager is undermined and performance levels fall.

    The most interesting thing in this is the fact that Williams tried to virtually blackmail the club into paying off his mortgage (unsuccessfully) showing that he was quite happy to lie and cheat as long as it lined his pockets. How much of his testimony is coloured and distorted by the fact that Harlequins refused to do so.

    No Richards doesn't come out of it smelling of roses but Williams also has an equal place in the manure pile

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  • 36. At 09:06am on 26 Aug 2009, northwalestaff wrote:

    Dear oh dear, some of the rubbish being posted on here is nothing short of incredulous! Comments like "he was just trying to win a game by bending/breaking the rules". What sort of statement is that? If that's all he was trying to do we may as well allow Quins to gouge, spear and leg-trip to their hearts content!
    After all, they've admitted to using fake blood on at least 4 other ocassions, may as well let them continue in the same vein, eh?
    This whole episode is shocking in the extreme. Richards deserves a life ban, pure and simple. He'll never be let anywhere near the England set up now and nor should he be. What club/country would want a man with such ethics anywhere near their coaching regime? It's also becoming apparent that the Quins establishment is rotten to the core. The coach has already fallen on his sword and it's time for the Chief Exec and club doctor to do the same to save the game any further embarrassment.

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  • 37. At 09:13am on 26 Aug 2009, bevster59 wrote:

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

  • 38. At 09:25am on 26 Aug 2009, adampsb wrote:

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  • 39. At 09:27am on 26 Aug 2009, adampsb wrote:

    therewesaidit wrote:
    Tom Williams has clearly turned down a great deal of money to tell his view of the truth (truth is not always an absolute)

    So a 4 years contract and extra holidays id not a lot of money. I wonder how forthcoming he would have been if Harlequins hadn't refused to pay off his mortgage when he tried to get them to if he remained silent and took the heat for it.

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  • 40. At 09:54am on 26 Aug 2009, Brandyrecovery wrote:

    Just glad to see that everyone now knows that Rugby players cheat as much as - in fact probably more than - football players, and their "tie and blazer brigade" supporters can now stop acting like they're morally superior...

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  • 41. At 10:06am on 26 Aug 2009, backplayisking wrote:

    Not that I'm condoning what Quins did but Williams is an idiot. he agreed to the stunt, couldn't pull it off, now he's trying to lay the whole blame on others, if he wasn't comfortable at the time he shouldn't have done it. i don't see any point in pursuing quins anymore the damage has been done there that's a smokescreen to cover the fact that all teams including internationals are up to it in one way or another - injured props etc.. it's time to focus on the game as a whole. Rugby as usual thinks there is no real issue to attend to it's just one off incidents like this - heads out lads - everyone's up to it and this fan in particular will be talking with his feet to non league football of a Saturday if it doesn't get more honest.

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  • 42. At 10:08am on 26 Aug 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    #21 McTadgit... you seem to be equating toughness and cheating, which I find strange. I don't think Willie John McBride would like you comparing him to what Deano did against Leinster.

    Similarly, there are authoritarian managers/ coaches, as you say. But surely it's not good to have a director of rugby who is so feared (if we believe Williams) that players are unwilling to voice their opinions when he tells them to cheat?

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  • 43. At 10:25am on 26 Aug 2009, rugbypat wrote:

    Rugby has always had a proportion of cheats and thugs, indeed I know that every team I ever played in had a 'psycho'. Although we all deplored their actions on the field, we felt we had to counteract our opponents' 'psychos'. Is there a continuum in rugby that starts with an offside encroachment and progresses through jersey pulling, obstruction, punching, biting, gouging, and ending with match fixing and manipulation of Heineken results by over-ambitious coaches and owners? Sounds familiar? A depressing reflection of society.

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  • 44. At 10:26am on 26 Aug 2009, kotakinabalu wrote:

    What do you expect from a game which is based on the celebration of violence; on eye gouging, testicle squeezing, and trampling on heads? Couple this with a masonic silence which is treated as a code of honour (rather like the mafia) and you have a full recipe for skullduggery and hypocrisy.

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  • 45. At 10:29am on 26 Aug 2009, TheTomTyke wrote:

    Williams appears to be a snivelling worm. His admissions here are a desperate effort to save his own skin. Even if you accept his account that Richards was a bully there is no avoiding the fact that he agreed with further deception when trying to get his mortgage paid off by keeping quiet. As soon as the authorities started to investigate Williams should have come clean, that was his opportunity to save face, not after attempting to line his own pockets.

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  • 46. At 10:34am on 26 Aug 2009, SportsSportsSportsBS wrote:

    Mr Austin,

    The thing is, I don't believe Williams, and I am particularly unimpressed with him. His testimony is all very convenient for him isn't it? He was pressured and bullied into it, it's not his fault, bigger boys made him do it, he feared for his career - He's sold Richards, Evans, Brennan, Chapman, and his club down the river to save his own skin. His subsequent attempts to blackmail the club prove that he is of questionable character, therefore I don't believe a word he says, neither should the authorities.

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  • 47. At 10:37am on 26 Aug 2009, Forthview wrote:

    I'm amazed at how many contributors seem prepared to respond to the whole sorry mess with a shrug of the shoulders, often apparently on the basis that cheating is rife and Harlequins' main sin was to get found out.

    One implication one could draw from this is that rugby union is such a nest of cheating and improper practices that there would be strong reasons for the Government to ban it forthwith on public policy grounds as a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour....... I wonder whether this might be the last straw for some parents musing over what sports they want to see little Johnny (and little Joanna) take up some.

    I quite agree that substitution rules have been abused in rugby ever since the law was changed to allow tactical substitutions. Personally I'd want to see a reversion to the old days- substitutions only allowed for medical grounds adjudicated by an independent doctor (though I'm not sure how that would work at Extra 3rd XV level.....) and those substitutions to be irreversible- if a team wanted a player with a cut back on the pitch when it had been patched up then they'd have to play with 14 men for a bit. I'm not so taken with the requirement to have a full set of front row substitutes even though I can see the issue with non-contested scrums- unless you cut down the number of subs elsewhere and make everybody have what I think of as an "Italian" bench this simply means squads have to be even bigger, meaning more costs at professional level and issues at lower level as all the front row forwards get snaffled for the First and Second XVs. It could be be death of the lowest level teams within clubs

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  • 48. At 10:38am on 26 Aug 2009, Simon Austin wrote:

    SportsSportsSportsBS... Yet Richards/ Evans did not dispute much of what Williams said at the hearing, according to the transcript. Perhaps he lays it on a bit thick about the bullying, but what of the subsequent cover-up?

    The club offered him financial inducements not to come clean about what had happened...

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  • 49. At 11:12am on 26 Aug 2009, AngryDigit wrote:

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

  • 50. At 11:15am on 26 Aug 2009, mugwumple wrote:

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  • 51. At 11:15am on 26 Aug 2009, sinkyparis wrote:

    In any sport, players at one time or another break the rules. A much smaller, but probably significant number cheat (conveniently called "playing on the edge"). Very occassionally an incident happens which highlights the potential for a downward spiral of rot (in football, the bridery scandal and in motor sport the Williams incident). When this happens, the authorities really have only two choices, ignore the full extent of the problem, and hand out relatively limited punishments (in my view this is what happened in this case to Williams, and Richards got the top end of what could be thought of as reasonable punishment) or take exemplary action to try to stop the rot. In this case, if, and indeed only if it can be shown that Williams' latest allegations are true (and I believe that is what is happening now), then Quins should face a heavier collective sanction (in the case of Italian football it was automatic demotion), and the management implicated in trying to cover up, after having been found out should be banned from the sport. The fact that it may have happened in other cases is not relevant, in the same way that just because some people in athletics who take drugs are not caught, is no excuse for not taking exemplary action when they are. All of this is, of course, dependant on being able to verify the "additional" facts. I say this, not being a Quins supporter, but one who really enjoys their style of play. But they were caught, they tried to win by cheating in a very high profile event, and if collectively guilty, they should receive a heavy collective punishment. And on the way, Williams ban should be increased, but Richards should peobably stay the same. Professionalism is no excuse for blatant cheating, and the Unions need to get a grip on it at its roots, if they have the evidence.

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  • 52. At 11:17am on 26 Aug 2009, rich_ten wrote:

    Having followed this debacle pretty much throughout, I was looking forward to hearing the "whole story".

    First up I'd have to say that Tom Williams comes out of this rather less covered in glory than he'd have hoped by coming clean/shopping his colleagues and employers.

    As Simon points out, the club offered him financial inducements not to fully disclose, but I for one would have thought that everything he has revealed (his blackmail of the club for a mortgage pay off included) should have resulted in a longer ban rather than a reduction. When this wasn't forthcoming he blew the whole story out of the water which seems like a criminal case to answer if Harlequins want to pursue this (which I guess they won't).

    Not that it matters, as I'm sure he'll not be playing in the premiership for quite a while - I can't think of any team wanting to touch him. For someone who was told he was "on the fringes of England squad", he seemed quite prepared to knife in the back the guy who'd got him there. He comes across as a bit of a weasel with no backbone. As a professional, and a grown adult more to the point, he had the option to say no, and if the coach then wouldn't pick him, move to another club because he was "on the fringes of the England squad". It all seems like excuses and a poor attempt to save his own skin, which will hopefully have ruined his career as much as a year ban would have.

    At least Dean Richards has taken his medecine, which sadly may be career-ending. All the Quins fans who've jumped on the bandwagon to talk about him as a domineering ogre have conveniently forgotten where they were when he took over, and where he has led them to. You can't have it both ways folks - good cop obviously doesn't work, but bad cop managed a great deal of success, both at Leicester and Quins.

    It's a shame Richards got involved in this, as I think he'd have made a great England coach, but I would suggest that as this seems to be the tip of an iceberg, a 3 year ban does seeem excessive. I would argue that it was a case of a streetwise coach exploiting a loophole in the laws which needs to be closed. This is no different in my opinion to Batsmen in cricket being offered the light and taking it when it's still fine for play, or a football manager getting a 5th player sent off or injured to get the game abandoned (I think Sheff Utd did this once).

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  • 53. At 11:23am on 26 Aug 2009, mugwumple wrote:

    What I find sad is that a lot of posts condemn cheating etc and suggest ways of amending the laws..this will never work, what's needed is a change of heart from all sportsmen, play the game the way it was meant to be played, stop trying to find ways of bending the rules ( including diving at soccer). Managers/players/supporters can all make a difference...will it happen?..Not this side of heaven, but I can dream.

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  • 54. At 11:38am on 26 Aug 2009, Vinshada wrote:

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

  • 55. At 12:30pm on 26 Aug 2009, sticky1964 wrote:

    If harlequins are the only guilty team then the whole of rugby is rotten to the core . I would suggest that some other high profile teams come out of the woodwork !
    Finally of mr Williams he is 25years old and should of known better ; he
    is as guilty as the rest .

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  • 56. At 12:35pm on 26 Aug 2009, McTadgit wrote:

    Simon

    I'm not equating toughness with cheating. That is an inference of your own making. Like it or not, 'tactical' substitution has, until now, always been part of the game and that is the truth, like it or not. Money coming into the game has distorted the importance of such issues. There is a fundamental change of culture happening in the game and within this new context, the RFU has to be seen to react, hence the heavy fines metered out to Harlequins and Richard's punishment.

    As to increasingly hysterical character assassination of Richards; he knows what it takes to succeed as an international player having been there and done it and is obviously able to impart this as a coach, which is one of the reasons he has been successful. Do you honestly think that, based on the evidence you have chosen to present that Tom Williams is going to cut it as a top level sportsman? I think not. Go and ask Richard Cockerill, Lewis Moody or Neil Back what they think.

    Based on the evidence you have chosen to present in your blog, Richards does not sound to me anymore of a dictatorial pariah than many other successful manager. Yes, there are benevolent dictators - McGeechan for example. But many managers - and player - use fear as much of a motivation. You'll have to do better than that to make your point.

    As to McBride; What do you make of the 99 call? Legendary toughness in which we all revel or cheating (as it is by the lawbook).

    In the words of Aussie philosopher Chopper Reid "harden the **** up"...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EY7lYRneHc





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  • 57. At 12:38pm on 26 Aug 2009, oadbywygg1 wrote:

    It is what it is - cheating.

    Quite frankly, having heard the Matt Dawson interview, I get the feeling that Deano's biggest regret is getting found out. He certainly is not the only culpable 'Quin in the story, and for me the player needs again to call his own character into question to be allowed, whatever the potential risks to his further career, to be manipulated in such a manner. He is certainly a lucky man to get a reduction in the length of ban received initially.

    I do not believe that comparisons to on the field player behaviour are relevant in this subject, the arbiters of law for the game (Ref's and fourth official/Video Ref's) have the responsibility and relevant powers to manage that side of the game. This issue is a premeditated tactic, as with uncontested scrums, that have risen from the pressures the coaching staff are under to achieve, and needs quick and decisive action from the governing bodies to remedy - in this case I think they got it about right, with the scrums, if you need to go uncontested, you forfeit the right to the put in - problem solved.



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  • 58. At 12:40pm on 26 Aug 2009, 62MMarsh wrote:

    I can't believe what's happening to my beloved Rugby and the club I have supported for years. I played for many years before becoming a Harlequins season ticket holder and I feel betrayed. Surely honor and fair play MUST be core characterisitcs of the game. OK, as payers we all pushed the boundaries of the laws of the game but this - it's in another league. If we do not see swift and decisive action from the RFU to deal with this I fear for the future of the game. Perhaps it is already no longer the sport I once loved.

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  • 59. At 12:51pm on 26 Aug 2009, SportsSportsSportsBS wrote:

    Simon,

    It seems likely that they either did not dispute it because it was mostly true, or they knew the game was up and dragging the situation out with claims and counter-claims would only damage themselves and the club further.
    Also, Williams' 'full disclosure' was purely to ensure a more lenient punishment for himself, his whole testimony is an attempt to absolve himself and pin the blame on others - he was the one who bit into that fake blood capsule and then wink as he was walking off, he should hold his hands up, apologise and take his punishment on the chin.

    The club tried to keep him quiet but he then tried to get them to pay off his mortgage! He saw an opportunity and he used blackmail to try and manipulate the situation so it would result in financial reward - disgraceful.

    The attempted cover up stinks as much as the incident, no doubt about it - I haven't really commented on that because I mainly agree with yours and others' comments regarding it.

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  • 60. At 12:53pm on 26 Aug 2009, allinsmc wrote:

    Williams' behaviour and attitude reveal the person that he is. His excuses for doing what he did, both on and subsequently off the field, bring to mind the saying " it takes good people to turn a blind eye for evil to prevail". Tom, we all have a choice and you made yours, your winking, far from indicating reluctant coercion, suggests a fair degree of voluntary compliance and acceptance. Williams admits it was his idea to be cut with a scalpel. Surely at this stage, with Leinster banging on the door demanding to see him, his actions can only be dscribed as completely self serving and protecting.

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  • 61. At 1:12pm on 26 Aug 2009, myopinionfollows wrote:

    I don't agree that following Deano's orders is a sign of being weak.

    To compare to England's victory in RWC - many players and commentators reflected on the fact that Johnno is a legend, much respected by his team mates who would have followed him to the ends of the earth if necessary. If Johnno demanded more aggression the players gave it, more discipline then they behaved themselves. I'm sure he never asked them to cheat as it's not his style but if he had done....

    Williams following Deano (another legend, team selector, influential voice, his BOSS!) in the same way is no different. He was instructed to cheat, is no doubt fully aware it goes on in the game all the time (by all accounts) and did so. It doesn't reflect well on him but I don't see this as "weakness"

    The difference to the gouging incident on the Lions tour is that the player was caught out, didn't dispute he had cheated, served his time (lenient or not) and then carried on playing. Similarly when a player has his hands in the ruck he's cheating, the ref sees him, blows the whistle, the player knows he's wrong and retreats 10 and gets on with it. Do the crime, do the time.

    Deano and co were caught cheating (on camera and by the opposition) and then tried to cover it up. Having unsuccessfully managed this they then tried to influence the players decision. The cheating is despicable but what happened after is worse.

    For the record Deano is an embarrassment. I used to watch him when I was a kid and he was marvellous - I'm gutted to see him fall so low.

    And just to balance Deano's character assassination - when I was at school we had a "rugby day" where we spent all day being coached by various people from local rugby teams. Growing up not far from Hinckley, where in those days Deano still worked a full time job as a policeman, someone had arranged for Deano to come and do some coaching. Unfortunately Deano's day off was changed, but insted in his lunch hour he drove to our school, did a quick Q&A, posed for a photo in the local paper and then went back to work. Most modern day professionals would only do this if it was part of their contracted terms. Deano did it because he was/is a top bloke.

    Professionalism (or more accurately money and the pressure that comes with it) seems to have ruined the game and the reputations of those who play it.

    A sad day for rugby, and a sad day for a (former) Deano fan.

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  • 62. At 1:16pm on 26 Aug 2009, zoot365 wrote:

    Whatever you may or may not think about Tom Williams, surely the practical course of action is to be lenient now he has told more of the story. Players simply won't come forward to provide evidence of cheating in future if they feel they will be used as fall guys for those in more powerful positions.

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  • 63. At 1:17pm on 26 Aug 2009, Rolf McHarris wrote:

    Laughable.

    Duff sport. Duff tricks.


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  • 64. At 1:19pm on 26 Aug 2009, presley-aj wrote:

    Williams has well and truly shot a hole in the boat and is prepared to take everyone with him in to the murky depths of disgrace. Whether or not Williams is looking for sympathy from the outside world is uncertain. But he doesn't deserve any. The fact is he got bullied and muscled in to cheating by a so called intimidating figure.

    Strangely, he clearly didn't feel that intimidation when he was negotiating a deal to pay off his property assets. It would be wrong for anyone pat Williams on the back for his new found crusade for the truth and justice.

    The fact is, he cheated and would do so if he could get away with it. He attempted to cover it up along with the other main players but the group failed miserably at that. Even when a ban had been placed upon him he still attempted to further himself financially, by a manipulative blackmailing of the club to line his own pockets.

    And after all has been said in this statement, which could lead to further truths coming to the surface, Williams is claiming to be pawn in a much bigger picture. And he may certainly be that. But the credibility of this man's words must be questioned at this point. Lies, deceit, cheating and blackmail are now words that can be associated with him and the initial limited sympathy extended to Tom Williams has well and truly been retracted.

    As for Harlequins, watch this space. Its a shame for honest players who wish to continue to play of the club but don't be surprised to see further lambs to the slaughter. The immediate future of the club is bleak and possibly beyond repair.

    http://www.insideireland.ie/index.cfm/section/news/ext/harlequins002/category/1126

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  • 65. At 1:19pm on 26 Aug 2009, IRSWalker wrote:

    Since the current laws are unpoliceable, it makes more sense to change to a system of rolling substitutes from a squad of 22. It's what the coaches are all trying to manufacture, so just go with it and stop the cheating.

    Make it a requirement that the 22 includes four props and you get rid of the the uncontested scrum cheating as well.

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  • 66. At 1:31pm on 26 Aug 2009, smilingPistol wrote:

    so so sad.
    What about the uncontested scrums fiasco that seems so prevalent in the english leagues last season. This doesn't occur as much in any other league in the world which leads to believe that front rows are pretending to be injured too - No different to the cheating at harlequins.

    Our rugby is becoming a joke.


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  • 67. At 1:47pm on 26 Aug 2009, coloneljt wrote:

    Behind the scenes inner circles have always pushed the boundaries and beyond to achieve victory. This is the hidden workings of the real world. It is only when things go wrong and people are caught out that there is a great furore.

    The greatest problem in this case is the games administrators have not addressed an area of the game that has been open for abuse for and has been abused for years - not just by Mr Richards.

    Unluckily for the game an icon has been caught with his trousers down. His reputation will be tainted and the people in charge of the game will use him as a scapegoat to cover their own incompetence. Trust me within the year this whole area will be addressed and will never be allowed to happen again.

    Although guilty Mr Richards is as much a victim of the system as he is to blame.

    On another note of the player who spilt the beans to save himself, as much as he subscribes to the view that he was the victim of bullying, having seen the incident he looked like a person who was revelling in the limelight, the wink, the smile, not someone who had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

    I would be very wary of the testament of such a person. It smells of "save my bacon".

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  • 68. At 2:02pm on 26 Aug 2009, NarrowboatDave wrote:

    x36 - northwalesstaff writes:

    "What club/country would want a man with such ethics anywhere near their coaching regime?"

    Ethics in profressional rugby union? It's like looking for a virgin in a brothel - they don't exist.

    Money rules the game. So many professional clubs are so near the financial cliff, they are dependant on wealthy sugar daddies who don't mind a loss making tax reducing sports club.

    However, that generosity only goes so far. Once the finances start to come under pressure, the need to succeed by winning the Premiership or a cup becomes irrestible, and no doubt many a quiet word takes place twix owner/bankroller and coach along the lines of "win at all costs".

    This Quins episode is just the tip of the iceberg. Richards, Evans and Williams are just the first ones to be found out.

    Professional rugby stinks. It will need a massive clean-up operation by the IRB, RFU & EPC combined (and that will never happen) to get things right.

    I played rugby from the age of 11, and loved it. I played for many years, and even now, when watching it on the TV or live, the legs and arms twitch with imaginary sidesteps/tackles as I watch.

    But do I want to go on watching a game that becomes more immoral and unethical as every week goes by?

    Sadly no.

    So it's back to the overpaid prima donnas in the Barclays Premiership then.

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  • 69. At 2:06pm on 26 Aug 2009, allinsmc wrote:

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  • 70. At 2:08pm on 26 Aug 2009, rustypee wrote:

    reactively moderate? does it matter isn't it about time we gave it a rest all the news today talks about what the RFU could do now and Jeff Blackett has already announced via the Daily Telgraph yesterday if one read it that the RFU are not going on a witch hunt after what Williams, said, perhaps he had little bottle perhaps he should have said less so what now what is done is done, it has not done Evans's reputation any good you are right but HE certainly has done well for the club over years BEFORE Richards came along (I measn where was he taught his trade Leicester and France, perhaps it will be up to the sponsors to decide in the end who is CEO etc but when are we going to start looking at ALL the other highly paid PROFESSIONAL CLUBS in RUGBY, sadly because of professionalism and Newcastle back in the 90's Rugby is going the same was a Football.
    Quins are not liked in some circles, but they put up a good fight and will do this season get off their back its not the whole team is it?

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  • 71. At 4:08pm on 26 Aug 2009, bevster59 wrote:

    I made a comment this morning which apparently gave offence and my blog was dismissed, for which I apologise if it did contain something out of order. But to those of you who feel this matter is "no biggie" and lots worse goes on, you could not be more worng. This is a major smear on the game. Everyone involved should wake up and realise the harm they have done to rugby union. We have been "holier than thou" for a long time, snearing at the antics of other sports, now we're down there in the mire with them. Not good enough. I myself thought that ban/fines were a bit over the top until these new revelations. Now I believe the RFU has a responsibility to wield the axe big-time.

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  • 72. At 4:10pm on 26 Aug 2009, sharking99 wrote:

    Seems to me that this sort of thing is rife in the English game. It happened the day before in the Blues v Tigers game. Dupuy came on and the ref Said "I want to see the blood, I can't see the blood" "that man must come back on before the end". What happened? Dupruy stayed on and the rest is history!

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  • 73. At 4:26pm on 26 Aug 2009, LingfieldEagle wrote:

    As someone relatively new to the spectator sport of professional rugby I'm appalled by this, and even more so by the way some people on here are seeking to defend the culprits and trivialise the offence. It is plain pre-meditated cheating and is an insult to the paying and watching spectators.

    Firstly the IRB should ensure that once a player has been taken off they remain off. Simple.

    Secondly the RFU should look into the 4 previous cases of this happening and if any have occurred within the past 12 months then throw Quinns out of the respective competition for this year. Tough on the fans but a clear message needs to be sent. Any future transgressions by ANY club from now on should result in immediate suspension from whatever competition it occurred in.

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  • 74. At 4:32pm on 26 Aug 2009, sharking99 wrote:

    bevster59 - I concur

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  • 75. At 4:45pm on 26 Aug 2009, namuncura wrote:

    This has been a fascinating set of comments and I feel compelled to add my grain of salt. Firstly, the whole episode is completely regrettable and Tarantino-esque. I should add I am a Quins debenture holder and die-hard fan. But the whole thing has been quite ridiculous and engenders little sympathy from me for Richards, Williams, Evans and the others involved. Collectively and individually they were stupid, unprofessional (which is ironic because they thought they were being exactly that) and myopic. I do feel though that this needs to be commented on in practical and realistic terms rather than purist terms. There is no doubt that what happened was cheating and that it shouldn't happen, etc, etc. But the whole episode and its analysis has to be contextual and understand (not condone) why it happened. The key points I agree with made by others which I stitch together with my own views below are:

    * Systemically RU has a problem around substitutions which is rife and has gone unaddressed. Tactical substitutions (and the cuteness with which these are used) is no different in RU than many other sports. It is human nature to try to push the boundaries to get a marginal advantage. This does not condone the issue of blood pills but explains why the environment of RU regulations and poor enforcement has allowed things to go beyond the pale

    * Quins is clearly not the only club that has engaged in substitution tricks. It happens to have been caught in a very amateur way and in a very red-handed way. The furore to my mind is much more about the cover-up than the blood-pill event itself (as regrettable and unacceptable as it was). If Quins had not covered up and put its hands up immediately the 'noise' and damage around this would have been a lot less. Ironically, Quins and those behind the cover-up may well have done RU the biggest service by messing up so badly that the authorities are now forced to address the regulations and hopefully clear up the systemic problem. The sad thing would be if the RFU do not flush out other offending clubs. There is a golden opportunity to encourage clubs to step forward, admit and explain in exchange for leniency and cooperation in framing the right regulations. Cooperation from all clubs will allow the authorities to put in place the right changes to the system so that this (and anything like it) never happens again (after all, blood pills are just one of many ways of feigning injury)

    * The initial cover-up immediately after the game and up to the first hearing is to my mind the most baffling of all the aspects of this episode. It shows pathetic judgement by all concerned. I do not for a minute take Tom Williams' affidavit as an exonerating statement - it is a pathetic read. They should have put their hand up as soon as Leinster and the ERC official cried foul in and around the medical room and then there should have been an immediate cleaning up of the mess. I blame Quins (and Evans) squarely for this poor judgement

    * I don't feel as strongly about the attempted 'horse trading' between Quins and Williams following the ERC's first judgement. This was clearly a case of two parties with critical business interests attempting to bargain a final and mutually agreeable position when their interests had diverged significantly (ie it is analogous to two parties trying to settle out of court). Each party was trying to minimise the damage to its own interests whilst attempting feebly to claim that they didn't want to damage the other party whilst appealing the first verdict. For the purists and those arguing solely on moral grounds, you may be right on those grounds. But the cold reality is that once the ERC issued its first verdict, the subsequent steps were always going to be driven by the underlying selfish interests of each party and not morality. I do not buy at all Williams' pathetic attempt to say he was a 'victim' and that he wants to 'do the right thing' and be honest. His affidavit was carefully crafted by lawyers with a single purpose: to defend Williams' and Williams' interests alone (at which point his and Quins' love affair is no longer). I am actually surprised that he got as big a reduction in his ban as he did. The second verdict does to my mind swing the pendulum too much the other way.

    * I feel badly let down by Richards as a rugby fan and as a Quins fan as I admired him inmensely. There is no doubt that he was an inspirational player and became a gifted and successful director of rugby / coach. All the criticism about him being 'authoritarian' and 'heavy-handed' is cry-baby garbage (am afraid including Austin on this point). If you can't stand the heat don't go in the kitchen. I can understand (but don't condone) why Dean got caught up in using blood pills. It is sad that a man of his reputation was willing to step over the line and do this. He deserves the severe adminoshing that he is taking. I am not sure he deserves the public calls for terminal exclusion from the game. He will carry this shame on his shoulders for the rest of his life as it is. Let the man sit out the ban and then try to rebuild his life.

    * I feel very let down my Evans and the club. In a situation like this, when emotions and passions run high and clear judgements need to be made in very short order, it is the wisdom and common sense of administrators that is supposed to act as the calming hand and safety valve. Evans failed miserably in this respect. He has to go. This happened under his watch and he did not act correctly.

    * As for Williams, I feel no pity nor sympathy. He is no doubt a gifted player and in fact a charming man (I have enjoyed dinner with him). But he screwed up badly. Nobody other than himself agreed to crack the pill regardless of whether it was given to him by the management team. If he truly feared retribution from Richards for not cracking it he could have blown the whistle within Quins with Evans and/or the Chairman after the game. But his choice was to pop the pill and in doing so he made a grave error of judgement and most critically disrespected his team mates, fans, opponents and rugby in general. Again, ironically, he may have done RU a huge service in the long run by triggering a wholesale clean-up. But he deserves his punishment and I believe the the ERC was somewhat hood-winked by clever drafting by his lawyers (admittedly, I do not have the benefit of having heard the verbal deposition in person). He is a yound man, so again, I believe he should take the punishment, learn from it and move on. I question whether his days at Quins are not numbered though.

    No doubt many of you will take issue with aspects of my views, particularly those who wish to simplify the matter to a simple 'cheating' agenda. I believe the context is a lot more complex than simple purity of sport as it always is in professional sport where money is an undeniable driving factor and therefore business interests supersede sporting spirit (I personally don't like this but as a businessman cannot pretend that it isn't the basic fact).

    Let's hope Quins, the individuals concerned, but more importantly RU as a sport and a business learn from this and make amends.

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  • 76. At 4:49pm on 26 Aug 2009, HeraldAm wrote:

    I am a Leinster fan who was at the game in London and I think a couple of things need to be made clear here.

    For anyone who says to give Dean Richards a break and thinks he is getting an unfair level of punishment, please imagine what it would have been like for Leinster fans (and indeed Rugby fans in general) if Nick Evans had kicked that drop-goal and knocked Leinster out of the Heineken Cup....

    This really doesn't bare thinking about - the Leinster v Munster game that followed was the best atmosphere at any sporting event i have ever been to and the final was a fantastic day for Leinster fans.

    Dean Richards would have deprived so many fans like me of those magical moments if his underhand tactics had worked and the asterisk beside the 2009 ERC winners would have made it difficult for a lot of fans to trust the sport again.


    I will say that I feel truly sorry for the Quins fans. Harlequins are a brilliant club with fantastic fans who made us feel very welcome - I have great memories of drinking in the pub in the Stoop watching Munster destroy the Ospreys and (thankfully unjustifiably) fearing for the fate of the team that got through to the semi's to play them. The fans don't deserve what must happen to their club but suspension from the ERC is the only appropriate punishment for a pre-meditated piece of cheating.


    Thank god for Leinster's brilliant defence.... every rugby person should be thinking the same way.

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  • 77. At 5:09pm on 26 Aug 2009, sharking99 wrote:

    LingfieldEagle - hear hear! Also ban the rest of the cheats.

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  • 78. At 5:51pm on 26 Aug 2009, RugbyPanfilo wrote:

    All this could have been avoided if the referee had been on his toes.
    Ref.: What happened Mr. Williams?
    T.W.: Glug, glug, well eh, o yeah BOD gave me an elbow to the face.
    Ref.: Mr. O'Driscoll, what´s this about you giving an elbow to Mr. William´s face.
    BOD.: Rubbish, its obviously fake blood.
    Ref.: Linesman, video ref. (was there one?) did you guys see anything?
    Ref.: Did anybody see anything?
    Ref.: Mr. Williams you are certainly going off but now with a red card.

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  • 79. At 7:25pm on 26 Aug 2009, kotakinabalu wrote:

    One of the most dismal aspects of this business was to hear Will Carling lamely defending and speaking up for his 'mates'. Mates comes first, rules, fair play, justice, decency and honour all come a poor second onwards.

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  • 80. At 7:49pm on 26 Aug 2009, rsuppards wrote:

    In no way do I condone anything that Richards may have done. However I don't buy this image of him as a bullying ogre. Such a beast would never have survived years as Tigers coach with all the strong personalities that were there at the time>
    The player however has not come out of this too badly - he already accepted a 4 year contract plus sweeteners from the club and, it would appear, only squeaked when his demands for more were turned down. On top of that interviews with national newspapers don't come cheap.

    Only playing into the hands of the anti-rugby lobby that populates the sports pages of the Times, who still think sevens competitions are played out by teams of prop forwards!

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  • 81. At 8:11pm on 26 Aug 2009, rsuppards wrote:

    Times Count

    6 pages Harlequins - sports and "news"
    2 pages (barely) West Ham v Millwall - sports and news

    Clearly riots and mayhem are not big news

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  • 82. At 8:33pm on 26 Aug 2009, Silverfox747 wrote:

    I am aghast at this sequence of events, even more so when The Times' Patrick Kidd cannot get his facts right today - Harlequins did not come second in the Premiership.
    However to solve this disrepute The Harlequins have brought upon a great game. The RFU should take the following action - Messrs. Evans,Jillings, and Richards should receive a life ban from Rugby- Williams has illustrated how he cannot be employed in rugby in the future. The Quins should be removed from the Heineken Cup for the crimes against ERC. For the additional crimes against English Rugby the Quins should be removed from the Premiership and replaced by Bristol Rugby Club (established in 1888) a venerable club who can continue to uphold the traditions and enterprise of a great team game.

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  • 83. At 9:20pm on 26 Aug 2009, Sparkle wrote:

    Actually a leopard never changes his spots...who remembers the HC match between Leicester & Munster I think, when Richards was Leicester coach? Neil Back palmed the ball away as it was put into the scrum (a Munster one) in the last minutes when the ref was on the other side, denying Munster one last attack to win the game.

    Richards was asked about it afterwards and basically said we shouldn't worry about cheating as loads of players cheat.

    With that and his admission he has organised other blood fakings as well as this one, can we trust any acievement he has had while being a coach a coach as being legitimate?

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  • 84. At 10:05pm on 26 Aug 2009, QuinsToRule wrote:

    I'm a Quins fan and am not going to try and defend Deano, Williams or Evans. However, I doubt Quins are the only team to attempt to win in such circumstances. That being said- the comparison with Football is both ignorant and insulting.
    I briefly switched over to the Arsenal/Celtic match today and the commentary team were discussing whether diving to win a penalty should be treated with 'a word in the ear' or whether it is symptomatic of good play in the modern game!! I think the reaction to 'bloodgate' by the posters on this site and the penalties imposed on Quins and the guilty personnel demonstrates the difference between the two sports with regards to cheating.

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  • 85. At 00:11am on 27 Aug 2009, grandslamewe wrote:

    i have lost all my respect for richards as a coach he is supposed to be helping players and their careers not blackmailing them
    but i dont have much sympathy for williams he could have easily said NO! and walked away even if it meant his time at quins was up worcester,newcastle,scarlets and several more teams would have gladly picked him up its about time the suits finally sorted out cheating(especially at rucks and scrums and players before the ball at kick off) in the game and the substitution system needs to be sorted out its been going on long enough and i dont think any coach at any level in the world can ever say they never cheated in a game

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  • 86. At 01:05am on 27 Aug 2009, Dominic wrote:

    I love the fact that some football fans have been coming on saying how this proves that rugby isn't morally superior to football. Can anyone remember the last time a rugby match resulted in opposing fans stabbing each other? Nuff said

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  • 87. At 08:55am on 27 Aug 2009, trousers088 wrote:

    All very sad. Of all the people, Dean Richards was a shock as much as the "crime".

    A couple of points of perspective - based on things that got missed in the hype and need for simplistic headlines:

    1. How has it been used in the past? In the main, this has been reported as buying time for proper injury recovery - not for this convoluted reason (replacing a replacement).

    2. The player was never squeaky clean - but under pressure. The fact that he got a new four year contract (which should be scrapped) and pressured for his mortgage to be paid off...if indeed he did...smacks of attempted blackmail (shades of Darrell Hair).

    I have no sympathy for someone who says "I was only following orders" - but then manipulates the situation to such personal advantage. His testimony... how much of this can we believe when he has lost all credibility by his actions *after* the event?

    3. Cheating. Uncontested scrums are the bane of modern rugby - witness The Lions. If this isn't being manipulated by all and sundry at all levels, then I am Phil Bennett.

    With the IRB chasing the cash, the Aussies wanting to play tag-rugby and Murdoch in the wings...do we have any faith that all this will be cleaned up soon?

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  • 88. At 10:30am on 27 Aug 2009, KingKultur wrote:

    What surprises me about this whole episode is first how unbelievably amateurish and poorly thought through it was - blood capsule from joke ship, wink etc. Also, how on earth can anyone in rugby - irrespective of their relationship with Richards - suggest that a three year worldwide ban is harsh? When I think of sportsmen/women being banned in recent years - mainly for drug taking - the punishment is not dissimilar in its length and severity and rightly so - this was calculated cheating but laughable in its delivery.

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  • 89. At 10:40am on 27 Aug 2009, John wrote:

    Is there an apology coming for Leinster in the aftermath of this debacle?
    Rugby now needs to send a very clear message indeed by dealing quickly and very seriously with ALL involved.
    The player included, his 'I feared being dropped' excuse is pitiful. He is a grown man who knew exactly what he was doing.

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  • 90. At 11:29am on 27 Aug 2009, namuncura wrote:

    To those calling for Quins to bebanned from the HC and/or the Premiership, I doubt that is the right approach. All that will do is penalise innocent fans who had nothing to do with this mess, were not in and will not be in a position to stop this kind of behaviour. Rugby and the Premiership need healthy strong clubs across the board (not just Quins). So applying these institutional bans to my mind isn't the right approach as it leads to unwarranted collateral damage. I do believe that the individuals involved deserve very stiff penalties, and I would include Quins' management within this. Individuals are replaceable and the institutions can benefit from strnger and wiser replacements. Rugby cannot afford to exterminate and destabilise clubs, but it can certainly help clean out bad apples within the clubs themselves.

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  • 91. At 11:48am on 27 Aug 2009, Wadge75 wrote:

    Seems the lines between the now professional game and football are really blurred now more money is involved in the rewards. Meaning the lengths teams will go to win, I mean, I was aghast when I saw Chabal drop as if he'd been shot after a late "hit"!

    But the amount of press this incident has got maybe something to do with the fact that the other team involved is the Premiership equivalent of Man utd. If it has been going on for so long why now blow it out of all proportion, it had no impact on the result.

    Like most things in Rugby, this should have been dealt with appropriately behind closed doors. Let's not loose what makes Rugby the best sport to watch and play!

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  • 92. At 12:29pm on 27 Aug 2009, 99_Call wrote:

    Quins/Deano apologists are missing the main point here...

    That Richards forced/asked a player to fake a blood injury and for the club to be so complicit is cynical, disgraceful and plain cheating but probably is all to common.

    That Richards/the Club were happy to let an employee take all the wrap and pressured/attempted to bribe him to lie in front of a Committee is way beyond the pale. As for Deano offering to coach Richards in how to give evidence makes you wonder what he got up to as a police man. Richards and Evans have no honour.

    Quins fans - what's wrong with your club. Maybe its pay back for booting out London Irish from the Stoop a few years ago ;-)

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  • 93. At 1:02pm on 27 Aug 2009, oadbywygg1 wrote:

    Sparkle,

    You can't compare the Leicester v Munster final (Neil Back hand of whatever incident) to this - for one, Munster never looked like breaking Leicester down to score the try they needed, and secondly there were three pairs of eyes on the pitch who should have picked that up and done the necessary during the game - I do not condone Backy's actions (it was almost worth it just to see Stringer's "spit the dummy" reaction and his little jig!), but there is no difference between that incident and any other offence that Munster (or indeed any other team) may get away with during a game.

    This Deanogate issue is far more serious, and needs big time action to clean up, and quickly. His reputation is in tatters, as is that of a fine rugby club that Harlequins have been and I am sure will be in the future. A premeditated tactic such as this designed to cheat the opposition out of a fair win must be, and in my opinion has been, dealt with in a pretty draconian manner.




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  • 94. At 2:00pm on 27 Aug 2009, namuncura wrote:

    oadbywygg1, as a Quins fan I agree

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  • 95. At 2:20pm on 27 Aug 2009, preferugby wrote:

    Agree with post 15, and others like it. Deano bent the rules and got caught. What a mess. Former policeman to. But he is not the first one or the last to do this I'm sure. The player was not squeaky clean either. The IRB, RFU etc need to look at themselves to see how this could have gone on under there noses, the crowd and the TV cameras. This has all been handled clumsily as usual by the RFU. Its a pity as I thought Deano was shaping up to be a potential England coach. All that stuff about Deano being a horrible dicator telling him to toughen him self up withe the league side. Whats wrong with that - its rugby. Also penalising the fans is not fair either. They had nothing to do with and most would not condone it. Quins have an exciting side and were doing well, and this is not down to dodgy blood binning, but good coaching. Richard's coaching career is now finished. Punishment enough.

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  • 96. At 2:37pm on 27 Aug 2009, rugbymanoz wrote:

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

  • 97. At 2:39pm on 27 Aug 2009, rugbymanoz wrote:

    is it just me or does anyone feel a bit sorry for the physio. does he deserve 2 years considering richards got 3? he like all the others lied in the first hearing. he also appears a 'victim' like tghe player and doctor. physios worldwide must be considering working in professional sport!

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  • 98. At 3:29pm on 27 Aug 2009, Mellymoo20 wrote:

    Firstly, all Rugby fans are not in the "tie and blazer brigade".
    We will probably never get the full truth about what has happened here but it is worrying that if what Williams is saying is true and he felt bullied he did not feel he could turn to his more experienced team mates. I think alot of fans will be wondering how many times this type of incident has happened in the past.

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  • 99. At 3:43pm on 27 Aug 2009, greyhereward wrote:

    There was clearly an unhealthy culture of 'win at any price' at the club, but the attempted cover up is a total disgrace. In any public company Evans and Jillings would go immediately. Once the ERU have finished their process, I would have thought the RFU would insist on this and also demote Harlequins to Division 2, as a strong and clear mesage that wrongdoing will be firmly punished. This is what the French did with Bordeaux-Begles a few years ago.

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  • 100. At 8:39pm on 27 Aug 2009, Chris wrote:

    Re #83.
    Back actually palmed the ball into the scrum (hence difficulty in ref spotting it). It was a yellow card offence (no different to any of the other yellow card offences). He would have looked a complete prat if it was spotted and he was yellow carded.
    Paradoxicly rugby came out of it okay because of the marvellous and sporting way in which Munster took the defeat. No ranting about refs or complaints. Whats more they came back to the same place twice and won it twice over the next 6 years. Well done to Munster and their marvellous set of fans.

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  • 101. At 11:23pm on 27 Aug 2009, northwalestaff wrote:

    Well done Will Skinner, nice to see someone with a bit of team spirit.
    Williams has been pilloried by some on here but not by me. Yes, he asked for extra's on top of what Quins were asking, but then he was being pressed in extremis to carry the can ALONE for getting the club, head coach, club doctor, physio AND chief exec out of the s h one tee. If he's going down for all of them, may as well make it worth his while.
    Skinner's stance speaks volumes about the ethos within the club under Richards and further quantifies the accusations of brow-beating and a domineering, over bearing influence from the head coach.
    Richards is finished, pure and simple. The hierarchy above him must be removed immediately for the good of the game and preservation of the club's name and reputation.
    I'm told that the Geech is pencilled in to take over at Quins. It will take a man of no less integrity to restore an equilibrium at the club.

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  • 102. At 09:31am on 28 Aug 2009, bevster59 wrote:

    This blog is incredible. It is clear that there are a lot of people passionate about this subject and many very good points have been made. Unfortunately the bottom line is that Harlequins are guilty of a very serious breach and regardless of whether or not this sort of thing goes on elsewhere doesn't make it OK for Quins. Evans' statements are paltry and even today John Kingston has more or less said, "oh drop it and let's move on", how contrite is that. I'm afraid that because of all the hype and hoopla I have the distinct impression that the RFU cannot and will not walk away from this. I know from experience how draconian they can be, so if I was Quins I would prepare for the worst, especially as past and present players are saying cheating is endemic in Rugby, the RFU will lay out it's stall in no uncertain fashion.

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  • 103. At 2:20pm on 28 Aug 2009, 10mangame wrote:


    "Cheating" i.e. fake injuries are widespread.

    See Lions first test, Jon Smit coming back on as a blood replacement, after being substituted - it certainly helped SA hold on to the win.

    Every club and International side has been up to it, it is part of the game, like playing the ref, and the RFU, IRB ...... did nothing.

    Leave this behind - the wrath of .

    Make a clear statement (IRB, RFU etc..) that from now on it will not be tolerated, and that after every game teams/clubs will need to mae a written report on all blood replacements, and injury relacements, signed by the club doctor. Simples.

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  • 104. At 2:32pm on 28 Aug 2009, rsuppards wrote:

    the Times "scandal count" for today:

    "Bloodgate" - 1.25 pages

    Upton Park Riots - zero

    Priorities, priorities!!!!!!

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  • 105. At 3:25pm on 28 Aug 2009, boogieeck wrote:

    Frankly incredible. Two years for Richards is well deserved. four would have been OK. This was repeated institutionalised premeditated cheating on par with drug use and worse than gouging which is usually spontaneous.

    The Doctor and physio may have a tough time if their professional bodies call them in and if struck off (and explain to me whay this might not happen) will have a six to seven figure case against Quins.

    Williams? A squad player, told to fake the injury knowing that refusal could mean loss of livelihood. then when pressured to take the whole fall himself given worthless assurances, so in my view wisely asked for the assurances up front. "Pay off my mortgage, if my career is over, I want to leave secure". His ban was on the lenient side too.

    Quins? Corporate responsibility. If a shop assistant sells booze to a kid, the company gets hammered. Once the previous incidents in the premiership are considered, Quins will be lucky to avoid points deductions.

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  • 106. At 6:28pm on 28 Aug 2009, rightRobbiesKeen wrote:

    Still struck by how open some people are in attempting to divert attention away from the crime at hand. Much talk of eye-gounging and uncontested scrums. Beware of such smokescreens; by and large those incidents, malign though they are, do not affect the outcome of games the way this incident did. It was planned from behind the scenes at the highest level and the attempt was made to cover it up from the same station. Eye-gouging does not affec the outcome of a game in the same way. Why don't some people on here understand that?

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  • 107. At 8:45pm on 28 Aug 2009, Thefrontrow wrote:

    The ERC Disciplinary Committee deserve high praise for their wisdom in this matter in my view. Based on the minimal evidence (coverup?) supplied by Quins in the first hearing they were left with insufficient evidence to find guilt with Richards & Co. However, one Tom Williams was left standing in the Dock and was handed a severe (in my opinion) one year ban, the club got a fine and all others escaped.

    However, in treating Williams as the fall guy the disquiet surrounding the whole affair received an appropriate level of debate, comment and discourse amongst all right minded rugby commentators and supporters.

    Did this decision force a rethink and an examination of the Harlequins conscience and force the "House of Cards" to come tumbling down? I would like to think that it did and that in reaching it's initial decision that the ERC believed that ultimately the truth would come out, which it did and ultimately they were able to dispense justice accordingly. If this was the strategy it worked wonderfully.

    Should Quins have been given the boot from this seasons Heineken Cup? Possibly, but the club has been damaged reputationally which cannot bode well for morale, attracting sponsors & the management team is in disarray. Ultimately you have to feel compassion for the Harlequins supporters many of whom have expressed their frustrations and shame in this forum and delve deep in their pockets to support THEIR club.

    Thankfully Leinster won the match on the day and saved us all from further embarrassment had Quins gone on to lift the trophy.

    I agree that rugby in general has to get its discipline code in order to portray consistency, fairness and deterrence. Secondly the rules surrounding front row substitutions needs further examination as suggested above.

    With the competitive season just ahead lets hope the headlines are all for the right reasons in 09/10

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  • 108. At 9:55pm on 28 Aug 2009, fergaljpc wrote:

    thanks be to god leinster lifted the trophy otherwise we would have entered a whole mine-field of retrospective we beat you's, BUT YOU CHEATED.

    The sport needs clarification of its' subbing rules, especially uncontested scrums. There are still areas of the game which can be exploited.

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  • 109. At 11:09am on 29 Aug 2009, Kiajon wrote:

    Richards and Quins got caught out, simple as that! But this sort of thing has gone in rugby since Mr Webb Ellis picked the ball up! Anyone who played in the era when subs weren't allowed except in the case of an injury has had the message from the side lines "how's your leg?", injury fained and substitution made! Now the stakes are higher and rules different but the basics the same. If a fake blood capsule just happened to be in the med bag of the Quins trainer then, I would guess they'd just happen to be in most kit bags!
    At the end of the day Deano was in charge but the player is an adult and if he has problem with something like that should refure to do it!
    I've no real sympathy for the club or the individuals but equally feel that this witch hunt and demonisation of people is OTT. At the end of the day everyone should learn the lessons, accept their punishments and the powers that be ensure that an independent medical expert be on the sidelines for all proffessional games!

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  • 110. At 7:10pm on 29 Aug 2009, adverse_orbit wrote:

    The doctor should be referred to the General Medical Council! First of all do no harm?

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  • 111. At 11:51am on 30 Aug 2009, Cornish_prop wrote:

    Shocking!
    I'm 27 years old and have been playing and watching rugby since very young.
    When I first started playing Dean Richards was still playing and was one of my heroes, I always looked up to him and respected him
    Even at the start of this scandal I believed, possibly naively, that Dean Richards had more integrity than to bring the game in to disrepute in such a way.
    I am so proud to be a rugby player and fan, spending many occasions debating with football fans in the pub how and why rugby is a better, more respectful and honest game. How can I say and believe this honestly now? I feel almost personally cheated and certainly disillusioned. One of my childhood heroes is a fraud, is there anything I should know about Lawrence dallaglio, Phil Vickery, Jason leonard????

    A very tragic event, i hope this task force with Andrew and Dallaglio will be able to work some magic!

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  • 112. At 6:51pm on 30 Aug 2009, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    So Deano was 'bullying, dictatorial' - well we all know what he did for a living before rugby so why would anyone be suprised?

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  • 113. At 08:47am on 31 Aug 2009, chewygregory wrote:

    The whole sorry affair is starting to get slightly boring now. there seems to be heavy criticism of everybody by Tom Williams and he has thrown a lot of mud around, no doubt some of it true but virtually none of it verifiable. Dean Richards, while by no means innocent, has been very quiet by comparison, neither defending nor excusing himself. i have a lot more respect for him than Williams for that reason alone. abuse or bending of the rules is prevalent at the top levels of all sport, anything to gain an edge, whether that be sledging in cricket, diving in football, laying over the ball in rugby. This is just an extension of that and has been blown out of proportion by a lot of sanctimonious writers and readers.

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  • 114. At 7:20pm on 31 Aug 2009, smudger_67 wrote:

    Quins delibrately cheated. They could have cheated Leinster from realising they dream of Heineken Cup glory. This has bought shame not only on Quins but on the game itself, English rugby is damaged by association. They should be asked to throw themselves on their sword for the Heineken Cup rugby this season. I liked Quins, a good honest club, working their way up from relegation to challenging at the highest level. If this was done by hardwork, well done, seems like it may have been acheived by cheating.

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  • 115. At 09:43am on 01 Sep 2009, newbristolpete wrote:

    Should Quins be removed from the Guinness premiership league

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  • 116. At 10:12am on 01 Sep 2009, rugbypat wrote:

    At the very least Quins should be removed from the Heineken. I can't understand why Evans hasn't yet resigned. There is some serious spinning going on by ex- Quins players, but it just won't wash. The Premiership should take a long look at Quins as well. Personally I would throw them out of the top league.

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  • 117. At 1:31pm on 01 Sep 2009, Brens123 wrote:

    A friend of mine made a good point re this at the weekend,

    What is the difference between Eddie Jones making his Aussie props fake an injury to result in uncontested scrums in the days when they did not have a tight five? Seeking an advantage, stopping another’s advantage?

    In my opinion, there is no difference so where is the Eddie Jones 3 year ban?

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  • 118. At 6:36pm on 01 Sep 2009, owltiger wrote:

    Williams comments regarding the wink....well that just makes me cringe. Clearly it was a sneaky message....anyway, I was reading big Lol Dillaglio's book this weekend and was struck by something:

    "Then immediately some Bath player went off with a blood injury and Jon Callard came off the bench to kick the conversion from the touchline. He went off again straightaway, American-Football style. Fair play to them, they bent the rules and got the two extra points. I was subsequently told by a Bath player that no one was cut; they just dabbed a bit of ketchup on a player, rushed him off the field and got Callard on. Hey ho you do what you have to do to win....."- pg 155.

    For me it's pretty obvious that this trick has been going on for years, not with the same panache! but still the same thing. Lol doesn't seem to be all that bothered by it and I would guess that there isn't a rugby club in Europe who isn't slightly nervous about their own blood substitutions being looked into.... kind of like eduardo thingy in the old round ball game. Perhaps there's some guilty glances all round, but I guess Dean got busted and hey ho, you do what you have to to win a game......

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  • 119. At 9:12pm on 01 Sep 2009, tonyf wrote:

    This is hilarious and not a 'wind-up' - the referee for Quins first match this season is.......DEAN RICHARDS !!!! Yes, a 40-yr-old referee from Berkshire! The RFU must be having a laugh! What irony!

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  • 120. At 2:58pm on 02 Sep 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    How on earth can anyone even contemplate Dean Richards EVER working in ANY sport EVER AGAIN ??

    Hand him the pearl handled revolver right now...

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  • 121. At 3:21pm on 02 Sep 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    If I was a senior marketing director at Heineken I would be asking myself some serious questions about why I should allow the brand for which I had responsibility to be tainted by association with this bunch of dirty lying cheaters. I can't wait until next season's TV coverage of the Heineken cup, when fans turn up dressed as mummies or zombies covered in fake blood.

    Or people turning up with super-size inflatable beer cans painted with the words 'with added blood for extra strength'. Or how the TV directors will shield children's ears from sweary songs referring to Harlequins as 'dirty cheating bleeps..'

    Or what if their opponents get frustrated ? Quick punch to the chops and a 'Fake that, Sunshine!' may be the result. Not big, not clever, but quite understandable given the circumstances.

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