THE lawyer representing Dean Richards has described the three-year ban given to the former Harlequins rugby director as “savage and excessive”.
Richards was banned from coaching worldwide for orchestrating the infamous fake blood substitution in the Heineken Cup tie against Leinster. Lawyer Mark Gay insists the reason the ruse was so obvious was because Quins and Richards were not used to doing it. He added Richards is “reflecting” on his next course of action.
Richards, a former England number eight who led Leicester to four successive Premiership titles and two Heineken Cup crowns, was severely punished for the scandal which has cast a shadow over the sport. European Rugby Cup imposed the ban after ruling that Richards “was the directing mind and had central control over everything that happened”.
ERC were particularly scathing of the way Richards tried to cover up the incident after the game but Gay argues the three-year suspension was too harsh. “Dean made a full and complete confession to the committee of ERC. He has taken full responsibility for what has happened. I really do think the committee should have taken account of that. Of course the cover-up really hurts you more than the offence itself but even in the context of that it’s a savage ban to impose, a ban which could in all intents and purposes have been a life ban on a person like Dean who has given his life to the game.
“To my mind it’s a very savage sanction, disproportionate, one the ERC should not have imposed.”
And Gay says the Richards offence pales in comparison to the incident which led to South Africa flanker Schalk Burger being banned for eye-gouging British and Irish Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald in June.
“What the player was involved with was feigning injury and, for me, feigning injury is less serious than causing injury and Schalk Burger got eight weeks for gouging. So that’s the core offence; then you go beyond that which is to say there is an element of premeditation in the capsule. But looking just at that, it was a joke attempt to cheat; almost comical.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved