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Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 15:31 UK

Richards ban to extend worldwide

Former Quins rugby director Dean Richards
Richards resigned from his post at Harlequins earlier this month

The International Rugby Board has extended the ban on former Harlequins boss Dean Richards to all competitions around the world.

On Monday, Richards was banned from European competitions for three years for his part in a fake blood injury.

The Rugby Football Union has confirmed that former Quins physio Steph Brennan, now with England, has been suspended.

Meanwhile, Quins chief executive Mark Evans says the club are undecided as to whether they will replace Richards.

The now notorious incident occurred during the Heineken Cup tie against Leinster in April when wing Tom Williams faked injury to allow fly-half Nick Evans to return to the field.

Tough deterrent was needed - Guscott

The event's organisers, European Rugby Cup (ERC), handed out heavy bans to those concerned, with Brennan suspended for two years and Williams banned for four months.

Brennan and Williams have also had their sanctions extended to all worldwide competitions by the IRB.

"Under IRB Regulations, and the application of the universality principle, all disciplinary sanctions handed down in rugby, including those arising from cross-border competitions, must be applied by all unions in membership of the IRB," said a statement.

"The IRB operates a zero tolerance policy towards cheating of any form in the game."


Just moments earlier, the RFU confirmed that all three men would be banned from English competitions.

"ERC has sent out a strong message that there is no room for this kind of behaviour in rugby," said an RFU statement.

"That is a message the RFU will continue to repeat across the game in England and through our own disciplinary processes.

"We can confirm that we will be upholding the bans handed out by ERC across our jurisdiction and that on this particular incident we will not be taking further action as we believe the ERC sanctions are appropriate."

Richards resigned from his position at Quins on 8 August in the wake of the scandal and admitted his guilt during a 14-hour independent committee meeting in Glasgow on Monday.

Tom Williams left the field with fake blood pouring from his mouth against Leinster
Williams left the field with fake blood pouring from his mouth against Leinster

The former Leicester, England and Lions number eight has also been implicated in four other similar incidents and the RFU is yet to decide what further action will be taken.

"Given the disclosure in yesterday's appeal hearing of further incidents of a similar nature in other competitions, we are awaiting the full documentation from ERC to enable us to review whether there is further action the RFU needs to take against the club, its current or former officials, on those other incidents," the statement continued.

"We will issue a further statement when we have properly reviewed the documentation."

Premier Rugby, who govern England's top-flight Premiership, added: "We await details of the previous occasions on which the former employees in question had apparently taken similar actions before discussing these with Harlequins and the RFU.

"In doing so, we shall be looking to establish whether any other issues exist or learning from these previously undetected cases to help ensure there is no repetition.

"This has been a watershed moment and it is vital that the lessons are learned at all levels of the game. However, it is also important that the response to these events should be strong, but proportionate.

We've got a player banned for four months and we've got to take some other internal actions and obviously that has put the whole organisation under a great deal of pressure

Quins chief executive Mark Evans

"Harlequins have acknowledged their mistakes and paid a very heavy price. However, the club had already voluntarily accepted responsibility and had instigated a complete, independent review of its internal processes and controls to prevent any future issues."

Richards and Brennan had been cleared by a disciplinary committee last month but received their punishments on Monday after ERC's own disciplinary officer, Roger O'Connor, contested the original decision.

Williams's ban was reduced from 12 months to four after providing evidence implicating Richards and Brennan.

Brennan, who was handed a two-year ban after an admission of guilt, left Quins at the end of the season to join England but his position now seems precarious.

"In keeping with our commitment to uphold the ERC bans, Steph is immediately suspended from his role as England team physio pending completion of the review process required under RFU employment policies," added the RFU statement.

Richards, Brennan and Williams do not have the right of appeal against the punishments with the ERC but they can take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Club damaged by affair - Quins boss

July's hearing saw Williams admit faking a facial cut during the 6-5 defeat by Leinster, who went on to win the tournament, to try and get substituted drop-goal specialist Evans back on the field.

On Monday, the fine handed out to Quins was increased to £259,000 but ERC stopped short of the ultimate sanction of throwing them out of this year's Heineken Cup.

Quins chief executive Mark Evans admitted the controversy had been a "wake-up call".

"The panel had that option but they decided that a significant increase in the fine was appropriate," he said.

"It's a very, very significant penalty and one we'll have to take some steps to be able to meet. We were hopeful that perhaps the original sanction might stand but that wasn't the case and we accept that.

"I think there are very few rugby clubs, if any, that have the sort of processes in place that you probably need. It is a relatively young sport.

Dean is a very proud man and I'm sure he will be back in the game when his ban is completed

Richards' former Leicester and England team-mate Neil Back

"It's been a very gruelling time. The club has lost a very talented director of rugby. We've paid a big fine.

"We've got a player banned for four months and we've got to take some other internal actions and obviously that has put the whole organisation under a great deal of pressure."

Evans added that the club had not yet worked out how they would go about replacing Richards.

"We really haven't considered it at all," added Evans. "We will have a discussion internally at board level about whether we will replace like for like or change the structure and do it internally.

"We really haven't taken any of those decisions yet."

Leeds director of rugby Neil Back, a former Leicester and England team-mate of Richards, has backed the 46-year-old to bounce back from the controversy.

RFU to investigate further 'fakes'

"I am upset, I am disappointed and I am surprised at what has happened with Deano," he said. "He's a very proud man and I'm sure he will be back in the game when his ban is completed.

"Playing alongside Deano for Leicester and England was fantastic because he's a rugby icon. Hopefully he can return to the game in time."

Harlequins are to hold a press conference on 19 August when further announcements will be made.

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see also
Richards banned for three years
17 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins must move forward - Easter
13 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins sorry for fake injury saga
12 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards resigns Harlequins post
08 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins judgement 'strange' - Moore
21 Jul 09 |  Harlequins
Quins stunned by fake injury fine
20 Jul 09 |  Harlequins
Quins substitution under scrutiny
17 Apr 09 |  Harlequins
Harlequins 5-6 Leinster
12 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union

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