Clubs agree code on blood injuries in wake of Quins’ furore

THE chairmen of England’s Guinness Premiership clubs have agreed a new voluntary code on blood injuries that will take immediate effect.

The code gives opposition team doctors an option to verify each blood injury that occurs during a game, starting with tonight’s Premiership season opener between Sale Sharks and champions Leicester.

It follows the damaging ‘Bloodgate’ fake injury scandal that saw ex-Harlequins rugby director Dean Richards banned for three years, former Quins physiotherapist Steph Brennan receive a two-year suspension and Quins wing Tom Williams land a four-month punishment.

Williams’ fake blood injury during a Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster last season – and the subsequent cover-up orchestrated by Richards – rocked rugby to its core.

At their pre-season meeting yesterday, Premiership chairmen also rubber-stamped a number of other immediate actions. They endorsed new Premiership regulations which will see a team reduced to 14 players if it is responsible for going into uncontested scrums.

And it was also confirmed an education and awareness programme on illicit drugs and alcohol that would be mandatory for all players and rugby staff.

Three former Bath players – Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins – received nine-month bans this summer for refusing a request by the club to take drug tests. Lipman and Crockett have both appealed, with a hearing scheduled in London next Monday.

Additionally, there will be tighter control over the number of people allowed in technical zones during games, with automatic fines for any breach.

Premier Rugby chairman Peter Tom said: “We have moved quickly to put in place measures that will immediately address issues that have arisen over the summer, as well as other areas of potential controversy and risk. The season gets under way tomorrow, and more than 60,000 people are expected at the London double-header on Saturday, with a possible record total attendance for an opening weekend.

“That is on the back of many clubs reporting record season ticket sales, so we are now all looking forward to a strong season of entertaining rugby for our supporters and partners.”

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