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Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 16:26 UK

Richards hit by damning judgement

Former Quins boss Dean Richards
Richards resigned in August after four seasons with Quins

The reputation of ex-Harlequins boss Dean Richards has taken another hit after European Rugby Cup released full details of their 'bloodgate' verdict.

According to the ERC ruling, Richards "was the directing mind and had central control over everything that happened".

Richards is serving a three-year ban for ordering a fake blood substitution.

The ERC judgement appears to exonerate Quins chief executive Mark Evans and the governing body decided against throwing them out of the Heineken Cup.

ERC was satisfied that the club's board and Evans did not know of the incident and subsequent cover-up before Richards offered his resignation on 3 August.

He was prepared to try to cheat Leinster out of a victory by bringing on a player at a crucial stage in the match when that player was not entitled to return to the field of play

ERC's judgement on Dean Richards

The statement said: "There is no evidence that any of the directors of the club, including Mark Evans, knew of the truth of the events on the field of play or the cover-up until Mr Williams approached them after the disciplinary hearing and Mr Richards confessed to the truth of events on 3 August."

Richards admitted to the appeal hearing that "he quite openly lied to Mr Evans".

ERC is particularly critical of how Richards tried to cover up the incident which occurred in the closing stages of the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster on 12 April which the Irish side won 6-5.

The judgement added: "He instigated the cover-up to the extent of requiring (Quins physio) Mr Brennan to fabricate statements and then refining the fabrications to ensure that all statements were consistent."

The scandal has already claimed another victim in Harlequins chairman Charles Jillings, who resigned last week acknowledging: "We failed to control Dean Richards. As a result of the board's failure to control Dean, the club cheated."

The board of ERC Ltd met again on Wednesday to discuss the fall-out from the incident.

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It opted to keep Quins in the competition but announced it would reconvene on 8 September to allow time for further consideration of the decisions announced and the related issues and implications.

The Rugby Football Union had said it would wait to see what the ERC does now before deciding on whether to take further action.

"We have now received all the written decisions from European Rugby Cup Ltd and we will review that documentation thoroughly," said an RFU statement.

"However, until a final decision by ERC on any more action they may take in this matter, the jurisdiction lies with them and we are not in a position to take any further steps.

"The information will also form part of the evidence examined by the Image of the Game Task Group, which will first meet next week to look at all issues to do with inappropriate behaviour that undermine the core values of the game at all levels of the game, on and off the field."

The now infamous incident occurred when Quins winger Tom Williams was ordered 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 disciplinary hearing in July but were heavily punished by a subsequent appeals committee in August.

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Richards was banned for three years, Brennan for two, while Williams had a one-year ban reduced to four months. Harlequins had their fine increased to £259,000.

ERC, who run the Heineken Cup, have now published the full details of the appeal hearing and the 100-page document strongly criticises Richards for his part in the incident.

"Mr Richards was the directing mind and had central control over everything that happened in relation to the fabrication of the blood injury on the pitch, and the cover-up in the days after the match," said the ERC document.

"The only aspect of the matter in which the appeal committee determined he did not have direct involvement was the alleged cutting of Mr Williams' lip by Dr (Wendy) Chapman.

"It was Mr Richards who had instigated and directed arrangements which enabled the fabrication of blood injuries as and when that was convenient and would assist the club during matches.

"In one of the highest profile matches in which the club had ever been involved, he was prepared to try to cheat Leinster out of a victory by bringing on a player at a crucial stage in the match when that player was not entitled to return to the field of play.

"He was quite disinterested in the consideration that by acting the way he did the club which deserved to win the match might be deprived of its victory.

Harlequins wing Tom Williams
Williams left the field with fake blood pouring from his mouth

"He had long since recruited Mr Brennan as his willing lieutenant in such activities, and in identifying Mr Williams as the person who would fake the blood injury he had selected a player who he thought could be suborned into cheating.

"His (Richards) was the dominant personality and influence on affairs."

And the hefty punishment dished out to Richards reflects the scale of his cover-up in the days after the game.

"We considered the primary interest of Mr Richards was in preventing his own role in events being discovered," said the statement.

"Mr Richards arranged matters so that those who were charged with misconduct complaints would lie to the legal team and would then lie to the disciplinary hearing.

"Mr Richards was by far and away the most experienced and senior individual involved. It was open to him at any stage to have said that 'enough is enough' and that the reputation of rugby and Harlequins had been sufficiently damaged.

"If he had admitted at any stage prior to the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing the truth of what had happened then the damage to individuals, the club and the game of rugby union would have been very much reduced."

The appeal heard that Richards had been involved in four similar incidents but the transcript reveals that the plan worked only once.

The hearing was told that on one occasion the scam failed because a player swallowed the capsule while a player dropped it from his mouth on another.



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see also
Harlequins escape ban from Europe
02 Sep 09 |  Harlequins
Richards has paid heavy price - Johnson
01 Sep 09 |  Rugby Union
Richards to referee Quins opener
01 Sep 09 |  Harlequins
Cheating not widespread - Worsley
31 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Harlequins chairman stands down
28 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Dallaglio named in RFU task force
28 Aug 09 |  English
Quins squad backs banned Williams
27 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Quins could face further sanction
27 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Physio Brennan quits England post
22 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
Richards ban to extend worldwide
18 Aug 09 |  Harlequins
I ordered blood scam - Richards
19 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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