No further action on Bloodgate, rules ERC

HEINEKEN CUP chiefs last night wound down their detailed Bloodgate investigation - but crisis club Harlequins are still not out of the woods.

The England RFU, through its disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett, must now decide whether or not any executive Quins officials warrant misconduct charges.

Quins, as confirmed by European Rugby Cup last week, will play in this season’s Heineken competition. Their opening pool game is against Cardiff Blues on October 10.

Former Quins rugby director Dean Richards was banned for three years; ex-club physiotherapist Steph Brennan received a two-year punishment, and Quins wing Tom Williams landed a four-month suspension following the Bloodgate fake injury scandal and subsequent attempted cover-up.

The bans, imposed by an ERC independent appeals committee last month, followed a Heineken Cup quarter-final between Quins and Leinster in April.

Williams, who had his suspension reduced by eight months on appeal, bit on a fake blood capsule as Richards tried to get goalkicker Nick Evans back on the field in an attempt to win a game Quins eventually lost 6-5.

Quins saw an original ERC fine of €250,000 increased to €300,000, while fall-out continued through Charles Jillings’ resignation as club chairman almost three weeks after former England number eight Richards quit.

Blackett’s probe – he will reach a decision either way by 5pm on Friday – will revolve around the RFU’s rule 5.12, which covers conduct prejudicial to interests of the Game or Union.

ERC, meanwhile, revealed they had been contacted by the General Medical Council seeking information regarding Doctor Wendy Chapman’s involvement in the disciplinary process.

Chapman was Quins’ match-day doctor for the Leinster game.

In his evidence to the appeals hearing in Glasgow, Williams alleged that Chapman – at his suggestion – agreed to cut his lip as part of the injury cover-up.

ERC said: “The board have reserved their position in relation to Dr Wendy Chapman.”

ERC directors held further discussions yesterday after digesting the 99 pages of written evidence and judgements from the appeals committee hearing that were made public last week.

The ERC board said their disciplinary officer Roger O’Connor, who appealed against an initial decision to clear Richards and Brennan, had brought misconduct charges against Quins, officials and staff “as far as is feasible in this instance”.

Meanwhile Harlequins forward George Robson has been banned for six weeks by RFU disciplinary chiefs.

Robson was sent off for striking Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson with his head just 46 seconds into last Saturday’s Guinness Premiership clash at Twickenham.


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