Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Harlequins have been slapped with a mammoth 215, 000 fine for faking an injury to their wing Tom Williams during the closing stages of the Heineken Cup quarter final.
Williams has been suspended for a year for his part in the incident as he came off the field during the 6-5 defeat by Leinster in April.
His departure from the field, which was supposedly for a blood injury, allowed Harlequins to bring specialist flyhalf Nick Evans back on, for the remainder of the tense finish to the match.
There were complaints against Dean Richards and two members of the medical team, but those were dismissed.
"We are both surprised and disappointed at this decision - particularly so in the light of the acquittal of Dean Richards, Steph Brennan and Dr Wendy Chapman on similar or identical charges," said a statement from the club.
"The club and the player will consider their position in the light of the written judgement due to be handed down by the disciplinary committee."
TV footage formed part of the evidence looked at by the ERC panel, as well as statements from witnesses, both of which highlighted the fact that Williams appeared to wink as he left the field.
"It was the view of the committee that this was a very serious offence and one that damaged the reputation of the tournament and of rugby union," said a statement from ERC.
"Accordingly the committee imposed a fine of 250,000 euros (215,000) on Harlequins, of which 50% is suspended for two years.
"The committee also suspended Mr Williams from playing rugby for a period of 12 months up to and including 19, July 2010."
Harlequins are considering appealing.
"Williams' 12-month ban is lengthier than Justin Harrison's eight months for drug-related offences, and Schalk Burger's eight weeks for gouging, bringing into question the continuity of how bans are administered," said Richards.
UPDATE: Dean Richards banned for three years following the fake blood scandal