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Quins man's 12-month ban 'entirely disproportionate'

PLAYERS&rsquo; chief Damian Hopley has leapt to the defence of Harlequins winger Tom Williams, after he was handed a 12-month ban for faking a blood injury.<br /><br />Williams was found to have fabricated a cut to his mouth in order to allow Quins to make a late substitution during their Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster in April.<br /><br />The sanction, delivered on Monday, came just weeks after South Africa&rsquo;s Schalk Burger escaped with an eight-match suspension for eye-gouging British and Irish Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald.<br /><br />Former Bath lock Justin Harrison, meanwhile, was this week banned for eight months after admitting taking a banned substance and then avoiding a drug test.<br /><br />And with those cases in mind, Professional Rugby Players&rsquo; Association chief executive Hopley admits he is at a loss to understand the punishment dished out to Williams.<br /><br />&ldquo;In recent weeks we have seen players found guilty of eye-gouging receiving bans of between eight and 12 weeks, and another player found guilty of misconduct receive an eight-month ban,&rdquo; said Hopley.<br /><br />&ldquo;For Tom Williams to be singled out and handed a 12-month ban is both excessive and entirely disproportionate. It is an extraordinary decision.&rdquo;<br /><br />Quins were also fined &pound;215,000 over the incident, with half of the fine suspended for two years.