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Page last updated at 22:18 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 23:18 UK

Best support for Richards return

Dean Richards during his spell as Quins coach
Richards won four successive Premiership titles with Leicester

Former England boss Dick Best believes Dean Richards will still be in demand as a coach when he finishes serving his three-year 'bloodgate' suspension.

Richards resigned as Harlequins boss when he was implicated for his role in persuading wing Tom Williams to chew a fake blood capsule against Leinster.

But Best believes Richards, 46, has the ability to return to rugby and succeed.

"I don't think team owners can afford to ignore someone of his talent," Best told BBC Radio 5 live.

Following a successful playing career as a number eight for England, the British and Irish Lions and Leicester, Richards became one of the most successful coaches of the professional era with a trophy-laden seven-year spell at Welford Road.

He lead the Tigers to four successive Premiership titles as well as two Heineken Cup titles before he was sacked in 2004 for a run of poor results.

He keeps faith with people and gets the best out of them, which he has done with this very young Quins squad

Ex-England coach Dick Best

"Dean is probably the most successful coach in professional rugby," said Best, who coached Richards during his three-year rein as England boss and on the 1993 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

"Along with his time with Leicester, he dragged Harlequins kicking and screaming from National League One into the Premiership and now they're in Europe.

"He has won everything the game has to offer, he's a very talented and capable guy and it's a great shame that people will only remember him for orchestrating 'bloodgate'."

The now infamous incident occurred during the final minutes of Harlequins' Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Leinster at The Stoop, with the home side trailing 5-6.

Williams was ordered by Richards to feign injury by chewing a fake blood capsule to allow fly-half and goal-kicker Nick Evans to return to the field.

Williams later had his lip cut in an attempt to make the injury appear genuine.


Richards and physio Steph Brennan were initially cleared of any wrongdoing at a European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing in July but were heavily punished by a subsequent appeals committee in August.

But despite the ERC indictment, Best believes former policeman Richards will still retain the qualities that have made him a successful coach.

"It's probably his downfall but he's stubborn and very bloody-minded," added Best.

"He keeps faith with people and gets the best out of them, which he has done with this very young Quins squad. There were players who I never thought were capable of playing at the top level.

"He's turned them into a top-four team in England, it's quite phenomenal.

"He has to find himself a niche where he is going to graft away and keep his eye on the sport if he wants to come back."

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see also
Clubs introduce blood injury code
03 Sep 09 |  English
Harlequins avoid ban from Europe
02 Sep 09 |  Harlequins
Richards hit by damning judgement
02 Sep 09 |  Harlequins
Harlequins chairman stands down
28 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Cheating not widespread - Worsley
31 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins could face further sanction
27 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards banned for three years
17 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins sorry for fake injury saga
12 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards resigns Harlequins post
08 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins stunned by fake injury fine
20 Jul 09 |  Harlequins
Harlequins 5-6 Leinster
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union

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