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10th anniversary of ‘Bloodgate'

Published: Mon 15 Apr 2019
This is how the incident was reported on the BBC website...

"The date is 12 April 2009. There are five minutes left to play in the Heineken Cup quarter-final between Harlequins and Leinster at Twickenham Stoop.

Dean Richards' Harlequins side trail by a point. Their goal-kicker is off the field with an injury. Their replacement kicker has just pulled his hamstring off the bone. Quins need a penalty or drop-goal to win...

Fake Blood

What happens next, involving winger Tom Williams and a fake blood capsule, becomes one of sport's most fascinating scandals.

After four months of protracted disciplinary hearings, Richards resigned and was handed a three-year ban from all rugby.

Steph Brennan, the team physio, was struck off by the Health Professions Council before winning a High Court appeal almost two years after the incident.

Williams was banned for a year, although this was later reduced to four months. Charles Jillings, the club's co-owner, resigned as chairman."

Transition from Amateur to Professional

It must be remembered that in 2009 Rugby Union was still in the process of moving from an amateur/semi-professional game to the totally professional game it has become. At our conference in 2010 we were honoured that Dean Richards agreed to come and speak publicly for the first time about the lessons he learnt from the ‘Bloodgate experience’. It took a brave man to stand in front of 350 senior healthcare professionals and basically say “mea culpa” He then gave a fascinating account of the incident and what he learnt about himself as a result.

Risky Business London 2019

Fast-forward 9 years and at Risky Business 2019 we are pleased to welcome Tom Williams as a speaker. Tom was then a young Harlequins' player, just breaking into the first team, who unwittingly became another victim of the ‘Bloodgate’ scandal.  Tom will share his thoughts on how the incident affected him and the Club and how Harlequins changed their culture after the incident.

Author: Guy Hirst