Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

More Blood to Be Spilt by Richards and Quins; as Rugby Chiefs Prepare to Look Yet Again at the Tom Williams' Affair, the Club's Reputation and That of Their Ex-Coach Are in Tatters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

More Blood to Be Spilt by Richards and Quins; as Rugby Chiefs Prepare to Look Yet Again at the Tom Williams' Affair, the Club's Reputation and That of Their Ex-Coach Are in Tatters

Article excerpt

Byline: Alex

TOM WILLIAMS' wounds may not have been real, but the scars left on Harlequins may take years to heal. The club's proud name has been dragged through the mud amid allegations of cheating and the departing Dean Richards, once an England manager in waiting, now sees his reputation in tatters.

Today's anticipated announcement that a European Rugby Cup committee will be looking into the whole "fake-blood" affair again in the next two weeks will cause more disruption to Quins' pre-season plans.

ERC originally slapped Williams with a 12-month ban and fined Harlequins [pounds sterling]215,000 in July for cheating but cleared Richards -- who quit as director of rugby on Saturday -- of any involvement.

That judgement is now being appealed by the ERC's disciplinary officer Roger O'Connor, who was not happy with the sanctions handed to the club by his own organisation and/or with the dismissal of the cases against Richards, Dr Wendy Chapman (the club doctor) and Steph Brennan (the physio).

Quins chief executive Mark Evans is now in possession of the original ERC ruling and it won't make pretty reading.

Evans had presided over a rugby revolution in south west London. The club had risen from the ashes of relegation to National Division One in 2005 to making into the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup four years later.

Attendances at the redeveloped Stoop averaged more than 10,000 last season and almost 50,000 watched the encounter with Leicester as Evans successfully moved his team across the A316 to Twickenham for the first of what he hoped would become an annual Christmas fixture at English rugby's HQ.

The clash was labelled the "Big Game", and Evans will now have the biggest of games ahead of him to convince a sceptical public that the Williams incident was a one-off.

Evans, who has kept his counsel since the weekend, will also have to find a coach who can match the giant strides that Richards -- also yet to speak publically about the Williams affair -- made on the pitch. …

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