ⓘ Bloodgate was a rugby union scandal involving English team Harlequins in their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Irish side Leinster on 12 April 2009. It was s ..


ⓘ Bloodgate

Bloodgate was a rugby union scandal involving English team Harlequins in their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Irish side Leinster on 12 April 2009. It was so called because of the use of fake blood capsules. In April 2019 the BBC described it as "rugbys biggest scandal".


1. Events

Seven minutes into the second half of their 2008–09 Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster, Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans suffered a thigh injury and was replaced by Chris Malone. However, Malone tore his hamstring 20 minutes later, and was replaced by wing Tom Williams, leaving full-back Mike Brown as the best available kicking option. With eight minutes to play and the score at 6–5 to Leinster, Brown had the chance to give Harlequins the lead from a penalty, but he pushed his kick wide. Williams himself then came off with an apparent blood injury, allowing Evans to return to the field despite having been substituted earlier; however, his late drop goal attempt went wide and Leinster went on to win the game.


2. Aftermath

An investigation by the European Rugby Cup and the Rugby Football Union revealed that blood injuries had also been faked by Harlequins to enable tactical substitutions on four previous occasions. These findings resulted in a 12-month ban for Williams reduced to four months on appeal, a three-year ban for former director of rugby Dean Richards and a two-year ban for physiotherapist Steph Brennan, as well as a £260.000 fine for the club. Club chairman Charles Jillings subsequently tendered his resignation, while club doctor Wendy Chapman was suspended by the General Medical Council pending a disciplinary panel hearing into her cutting of Williams lip to hide his use of the blood capsule. On 2 September 2009, it was reported that Harlequins had escaped being thrown out of the Heineken Cup following the scandal when the European Rugby Cup board said they approved of the penalties already handed out.

Mark Evans, chief executive of Harlequin FC said:

You would be incredibly naive to think the Bloodgate stigma will ever disappear completely. Things like that dont. They become part of history and, like good or bad seasons, are woven into the fabric of any club.

Richards resigned from his post at Harlequins over the incident in which it was acknowledged that he had orchestrated and had "central control". He was given a three-year suspension from coaching as punishment. The International Rugby Board IRB also confirmed that they would apply the ban to rugby union worldwide.

Dr Chapman, the medic who cut Williams lip, appeared before the General Medical Council charged with alleged conduct likely to bring the profession into disrepute. The appearance resulted in Dr Chapman being warned but allowed to continue practising medicine.

  • The Bloodgate Hill Iron Age Fort is an Iron age hill fort in Norfolk, England, situated on a hill above the village of South Creake in the north of the
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  • January at Murrayfield Stadium. This match became notorious for the Bloodgate scandal. Quins coach Dean Richards was banned from rugby for three years
  • the centre of the village. On a hill above the village can be found the Bloodgate Hill Iron Age Fort. The civil parish has an area of 7.79 square miles
  • Designations within the AONB PDF Norfolk Coast AONB. Retrieved 25 May 2018. Bloodgate hill fort, South Creake, Norfolk Archaeological Trust. Retrieved 25 January
  • player they may wish to bring back on later. A notable example was the Bloodgate incident, where Harlequins wing Tom Williams came off the field with
  • near two other Iron Age enclosures: about 5.5 miles 8.9 km north of Bloodgate Hill Iron Age Fort, and about 5 miles 8.0 km northwest of Warham Camp
  • 2009. He was banned from coaching for the next three years following the Bloodgate scandal. After the expiration of his ban he was appointed by Newcastle
  • Bloodgate Scandal took place. The contrast between this season and the previous season could hardly have been greater. With the shadow of Bloodgate still
  • officer at the Rugby Football Union and conducted an investigation into the Bloodgate scandal. He has been a Senior Circuit Judge since 2005. Blackett was born
  • their quarter - final victory over Harlequins in a match marred by the Bloodgate scandal. Following the Amlin Challenge Cup final on 20 May at Cardiff