Harlequins braced for more controversy
September 2, 2009
Dean Richards is set to face more criticism for his role in the 'Bloodgate' scandal © Getty Images
The latest dramatic chapter in the Harlequins 'Bloodgate' fake injury scandal is set to unfold on Wednesday.
Fresh damaging revelations are expected when European Rugby Cup make public full written decisions concerning appeals lodged by their own disciplinary officer Roger O'Connor. An independent hearing in Glasgow last month reduced Quins wing Tom Williams' initial 12-month ban to four after the player appealed his original punishment.
Elsewhere, a three-year suspension was imposed on the club's former rugby director Dean Richards, ex-Quins physiotherapist Steph Brennan received a two-year ban and Quins had a six-figure fine increased, to be paid in full by December 1.
O'Connor had appealed a disciplinary committee's decision in July to clear Richards, Brennan and club doctor Wendy Chapman of claims of misconduct. He also appealed Quins' financial sanction. The written judgement of Williams' appeal was revealed in all its gory detail last week.
In that document, Williams alleged that he was put under pressure by Quins officials to lie during his original disciplinary hearing. He also claimed financial inducements had been made to him in return for not making full disclosure at his appeal, and most alarming of all, he claimed Chapman had deliberately cut his mouth.
Chapman's alleged action came in an attempt to cover up a fake blood issue after Williams had left the field late in Quins' Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat against Leinster last season. It followed Richards' order for a blood capsule to be used on Williams to simulate a blood injury and allow specialist goalkicker Nick Evans, who had already left the field injured, to return. Quins eventually lost the game 6-5.
In the aftermath of Williams' appeal hearing evidence being released, Quins chairman Charles Jillings resigned.
The written appeal decisions were submitted to all parties last night, with publication on the ERC official website due at 10am today.
Among those certain to cast a close eye over the judgements will be the Rugby Football Union and ERC themselves. The RFU recently set up a 13-man taskforce to review current issues in the game. It is possible Quins could face RFU charges in the light of today's published documentation.
And a threat of expulsion from this season's Heineken Cup still hangs over the London club, with ERC able to review their existing punishment if they feel it is warranted.
On the field, Quins will kick off their new Guinness Premiership campaign against Wasps at Twickenham on Saturday. Their first Heineken Cup fixture is away to Cardiff Blues on October 10.
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