The 'Bloodgate' Substitution - Tom Williams - Harlequins v. Leinster

Tom Williams fakes injury to allow fly-half Nick Evans to return to the field in a Heineken Cup tie against Leinster, 12/04/09. Winger Williams's initial 12-month ban has now been reduced to four months. Quins' fine was increased to £259,000 but European Rugby Cup (ERC) stopped short of the ultimate sanction of throwing them out of this year's Cup. The original fine of 250,000 euros (£206,000) had been half suspended, but the new amount is payable in full. However, Harlequins will be relieved not to have been thrown out of this season's Heineken Cup, which might have cost them 15% of their annual revenue. Physiotherapist Steph Brennan was handed a two-year ban after an admission of guilt, but the appeal committee dismissed the charge against Dr Wendy Chapman from the club's medical staff. Former England forward Richards, who resigned from his position as director of rugby at Quins last weekend, was also found to have been involved in four similar incidents, hence the severity of his punishment. Reacting to his ban, Richards said: "I'm surprised. Three years is a long time but I'll reflect on it overnight. "I took full responsibility for it. It was a farcical situation, it really was. "It didn't pan out particularly well on the day. Everybody looked at it and thought, 'That's unreal', which is what I thought on the touchline as well. "But I had to hold my hands up." The cover-up is thought to have involved Williams' face being deliberately cut after the Leinster match to hide the fact he had used a fake blood capsule. Richards said: "I have no knowledge of that. I wasn't party to anything going on there. "I'm not aware that it did happen. I know that he had a cut but I don't know how it came about because I wasn't in the room." Richards had not decided whether to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He said: "I'm a little bit shocked, a little bit surprised by it all. "It seems a little bit disproportionate but, at the end of the day, I'll reflect on it overnight and obviously see where my thoughts are in the morning." Reading a statement, Williams said: "I sincerely regret the role that I've played in this unacceptable incident that has done so much damage to the image of rugby union. "I let down my team-mates and the club's fans, and I'll have to live with those actions for the rest of my career. "In deciding to come clean and do the right thing, I've tried honestly to rectify this mess and repay the good faith shown in me by my friends and family. "I would like to thank the ERC disciplinary panel for their decision to reduce my sanction and I am relieved that they did this. "However, I also realise the grave error of judgment that I have made." He added: "I hope that, as a result of this episode, no player or employee will ever be put in such a compromised position, and if they are then they will always tell the truth, as I had wished I had done from the outset." Evans had departed injured in the 47th minute of the 6-5 defeat by Leinster before his replacement at number 10, Chris Malone, also went off injured later in the second half. With time running out, Williams was seen with what appeared to be blood coming out of his mouth, which meant he could go off to be replaced by specialist kicker Evans. Evans missed a drop goal as the Irish side held out for the win before going on to win the Heineken Cup. Television pictures appeared to show Williams winking at the bench as he went off. Leinster were incensed and their club doctor, Professor Arthur Tanner, followed Williams down the tunnel but was prevented from entering the treatment room."

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