Header Random

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Richards Banned for Three Years, Williams Reduced to 4 months

The fall out of Harlequins Heineken Cup 1/4 Final loss to Leinster last season on the 12th of April continues.

First there was the investigation into the "apparent" blood injury to winger Tom William's. This allowed Nick Evans (crocked knee and all) to re-appear in the final 10 minutes of the game. Evan's is a noted goal kicker and Harlequins were hoping he could hobbled a kick over to beat Leinster by two points. It wasn't to be and what has followed I can only describe by borrowing a quote from Derek Mahon "from the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime".

William's was originally found guilty of fabricating the blood injury. One would think his "sly" wink (38 seconds) to the Harlequins bench while coming off the pitch only heightened suspicions.
He was banned for 12 months. Cheating should be punished - make no mistake what was done was wrong and I agree all those involved should be punished.

However, it seemed odd that the club was fined monetary value and found guilty of wrong-doing yet no mention was made of throwing them out of European Competitions. The fine will hurt - no Guinness Premiership can withstand 1/4 of a million hit to their budget - I shudder to think how an Irish province would fare under such a hit.
But could one not argue that a ban from any European competition for 1-2 years would have made more sense?
The loss in revenue to Harlequins from advertising and ticket sales I feel would have been just as damaging and also more relevant to the crime.

Williams then came out and appealed his ban - no surprise there.

I was fully expecting him to appeal and I feel his reduction to 4 months is fine. Personally, when I heard of the first 12 month ban I was surprised. I asked myself what would any player do in that situation - struggling to win a very important game for the club and the management ask you to take a fall ( or crush a fake blood capsule in your mouth - why would teams even have these near the sideline?).
Do you a) go with the management and team (who pays your wages) or b) refuse and then probably face the sack at the end of the month on any disciplinary actions the club can think of that will not result in an unfair dismissal case.

In the end Williams was found to be the "pawn" in the case. Dean Richards, a former great player and coach has taken the hit. He is shocked by his 3 year ban, and will weigh up his decision to appeal.

It is hard to tell exactly where the blame should lie - personally I think it should fall something like the following:
Richards - 2 years for his part in the cover up.
Williams - 2 months from playing time for his actions.
Doctors in Harlequins - if found guilty of cutting William's mouth with a scalpel. Banned from involvement with any rugby club for life - subsequent medical investigation into the ethics of that decision will probably have some impact on their medical licenses.

This is pretty big news for Rugby Union - I've never heard of such a blatant case of cheating in such a high profile game. Hopefully, it is not a sign of a direction the game is taken - and maybe the high penalties being paid by Harlequins will prevent teams from taking such mindless decisions in the future.


Post a Comment