Bloodgate 10 years on: Tom Williams on rugby’s biggest scandal


Tom Williams left the discipline right thru Harlequins semi-closing in opposition to Leinster with a ‘blood injure’

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

Dean Richards’ Harlequins facet high-tail by a degree. Their procedure-kicker is off the discipline with an injure. Their replacement kicker has true pulled his hamstring off the bone. Quins need a penalty or descend-procedure to take…

What occurs next, engaging winger Tom Williams and a faulty blood capsule, becomes regarded as one of sport’s most intelligent scandals.

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

Steph Brennan, the group physio, became struck off by the Successfully being Professions Council before a hit a Excessive Courtroom enchantment nearly two years after the incident.

Williams became banned for a yr, even supposing this became later reduced to four months. Charles Jillings, the membership’s co-proprietor, resigned as chairman.

Ten years on, right here’s the memoir of ‘bloodgate’ informed by Williams and two group-mates on that day, Danny Care and Ugo Monye.

Williams:I became about to bustle on to the pitch and the physio mentioned: ‘Deano says you are coming off for blood.’ That became the first I would heard of it.

I true ran on the pitch and got on with my job. Just a few phases later, the physio runs on and provides me a blood capsule and I became love: ‘What the hell discontinuance I discontinuance with this?’ He informed me to enter contact, save it in my mouth, chunk it and scurry down. ‘We’ll come by you off,’ he mentioned.

Care:In actual fact at the time, I had no notion what became occurring. I became 22, I would not skilled one thing love it before and I handiest chanced on out in the changing rooms after when anyone mentioned: ‘I contemplate we’ll be in fairly of anguish right here.’

Monye:Hand on heart, I didn’t enjoy a clue what became occurring at the time. However I did know blood capsules had been a note at Quins. It became frequent in rugby wait on then. You replicate on it now and it became dazzling plain, but it absolutely became clear-prick to come by away with it.

Williams:Yet any other extinct player phoned me up recently and mentioned: ‘I did it a week before. I didn’t save the capsule in my mouth but I true save a towel on my head which became bloodied.’

Why Tom Williams?

Crop Evans (2d from left) replaced Tom Williams but neglected a tiresome descend-procedure strive as Harlequins misplaced 6-5

Monye:It true relied on who you wanted to come by on to the pitch. You never had conversations in the week and it wasn’t a case of ‘oh by the device in which it will also very effectively be you’, it became one thing that became true done on the hoof.

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Fortunately that day, it wasn’t me who became asked to discontinuance it. If Dean had asked me to discontinuance it, since it became so frequent, I potentially would’ve done it too. It nearly modified into identical outdated because we would done it a few times and in rugby that is true what became done.

Care:Everybody would enjoy done the an identical. In case you come by informed to discontinuance it, you discontinuance it. Namely when it be Dean Richards telling you to discontinuance it.

Williams:Nothing crossed my mind when I got handed the capsule, I became doing what I became doing for the group. I became making an are trying to provoke my boss and come by Quins true into a semi-closing of Europe.

It became about doing what I might well well for the group and not having notion in the slightest in regards to the outcomes. So what became I most guilty of at the time? Potentially following group orders and being a naive 25-yr-extinct who might well well unruffled’ve identified better.

Dean Richards returned to coaching with Newcastle in 2012 – showing contrition over ‘Bloodgate’ by pronouncing: “I set not need done it.”

Why the atrocious wink?

Monye:I’ve never asked you this, Tommy, but why the wink? You sight wait on and also you true notion: ‘Tommy, near on mate.’

Williams:The wink became satirically slightly innocent. It became anyone asking me if I became OK and it became me pronouncing: ‘Yeah I am stunning.’ That became it.

Care:That is why it looks so depraved since the wink looks love it became all share of the feature, but it absolutely wasn’t at all.

What befell in the changing room?

Williams:We knew we needed to discontinuance one thing, as folk wanted to near wait on in the room to sight my mouth. They had been banging on the door making an are trying to come by into the changing room. Our physician, Wendy Chapman, and myself, didn’t know what to discontinuance. It became a in actuality ridiculous time and I realise I regarded love an absolute fool.

Shane Horgan had shouted from the Leinster bench, ‘It be not actual blood, it be not actual blood’ as I became stumbling down the tunnel. So we went into the changing room, I had a dialog with the physician and he or she made the decrease. Logical decision making at the time, for myself and Dr Chapman, became true not there.

What befell in the aftermath?

Williams:I got a approach of how serious it became at the muse however the membership’s message to me became along the lines of: ‘Build not fright. Basically the most this would perchance well be is a stunning and we’ll conceal that.’

I went to the first listening to not overly concerned. When I got given the one-yr ban, I at closing got in contact with the Rugby Gamers Association, who mentioned: ‘Retain on a minute, you are getting frolicked to dry right here. They’re pronouncing you masterminded your total thing.’

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Ultimately my spouse Alex and I went to meet the board and the chairman one evening and we spent three hours going thru the that it’s doubtless you’ll even imagine outcomes.

At about 11pm, I left – as we had been going round in circles and they weren’t backing me up. However Alex went wait on into that room and asked each single regarded as one of them: ‘Who’s fault is it that we’re right here?’ I got a mobile phone call the next morning pronouncing: ‘Dean Richards is resigning and we wholeheartedly make stronger you.’

Monye:Everybody in the aftermath became brooding in regards to the person, the group and the membership.

Williams:I notion long and exhausting about taking the fall.

Monye:What modified your mind?

Williams:I mentioned to Alex: ‘I draw not contemplate I’m in a position to discontinuance this any extra, I am true going to come by the hell out.’ And he or she mentioned: ‘Successfully what the hell else are you going to discontinuance? You didn’t scurry to college, you’re going to enjoy handiest been a rugby player. How discontinuance you like to enjoy be remembered?’

What did the opposite gamers contemplate?

Danny Care and Ugo Monye had been group-mates with Harlequins and England

Monye:If we’re talking genuinely, the gamers had been hugely divided. There became a share of me that became love: ‘Tommy, true buy the hit.’ He’d had been a hero among us because he’d enjoy fallen on his sword.

We wanted to present protection to the recognition of the membership. Selfishly we had been true pondering of how lets offer protection to everybody desirous about it but it absolutely became an very unlikely solution and about injury limitation for us.

Care:We didn’t know what blame Tommy became getting.

Williams:I knew the topic the gamers had. It became equivalent to the within discipline I had myself by procedure of the broader image. Just a few gamers had been pronouncing to me in passing ‘loose lips sink ships’ but that is true infantile bullying in fact. They had been very real to Dean and true having a sight after their buddy’s easiest interests.

Returning to Quins

Williams:It became a worldly discipline because I wished to play rugby but there became fairly one thing connected to my title which made most clubs not are looking out out for to make employ of me. I did sight somewhere else but I didn’t come by very far down the road. My agent true mentioned no-one became .

I became dazzling in depressed health right thru that four-month ban and for the time being it might per chance perchance well potentially be identified as despair. I misplaced two stone and I notion: ‘What’s it that I am enjoying rugby for?’ I true wanted the different to near wait on wait on and procure some pleasure in myself, and confidently give some wait on to Quins as effectively.

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10 years on…

Tom Williams retired as a player in 2015 and joined Harlequins’ academy workers as a coach

Williams:That day hasn’t been far off from my notion route of ever since that moment it befell 10 years in the past. Inevitably there is a stigma that is unruffled connected to my title now that isn’t very connected to Harlequins.

Each time Harlequins are written about in the papers, it would not deny ‘bloodgate’, does it? Each time I am written about in the papers, it says ‘bloodgate’. So who’s got the stigma?

Yeah, I’ll buy that it might per chance perchance well’ve been worse. However it absolutely would not come by grand worse than folk turning up in vampire outfits to Twickenham the next season. It would not come by grand worse than turning up at Sale and folk calling you a cheat. How grand worse might well well that come by?

Monye:12 April 2009 became positively the darkest day in Harlequins history. We misplaced slightly heaps of enormous females and men from that and the membership’s popularity became tarnished, but off the wait on of that we had been ready to procure the strength to block out all of the skin noise and come by wait on to what we had been. No-one will realize how depraved it became, despite the truth that, extra than Tommy.

I am true cheerful in lots of how in which we got caught since it cleaned up rugby, and to my data it be not been done since.

Care:It became an enormous serious be-careful call for rugby and positively for Harlequins. We confronted an unprecedented punishment, folk misplaced their jobs and Quins can’t ever enjoy one thing love that on their title again.

For the membership, the most simple thing became that we got caught but for Tommy, it became the worst.

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