Richards gets three-year ban for fake blood fiasco

FORMER Harlequins boss Dean Richards was last night banned from coaching for three years for his part in the club&rsquo;s faking of a blood injury during last season&rsquo;s Heineken Cup.<br /><br />Winger Tom Williams, whose mouth wound during April&rsquo;s quarter-final defeat to Leinster was found to have been fabricated, had his 12-month suspension reduced to four months by governing body ERC&rsquo;s appeal committee.<br /><br />But Quins had their fine increased from &euro;250,000 (&pound;215,000), half of which had been suspended, to &euro;300,000 (&pound;259,000) to be paid in full by 1 December, following the hearing in Glasgow. The verdicts are final and cannot be appealed.<br /><br />The punishments apply to ERC-sanctioned competitions only but ERC said it would press for them to be imposed worldwide.<br /><br />Richards, who was also accused by the panel of being involved in four similar previous incidents, said last night: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m surprised. Three years is a long time but I&rsquo;ll reflect on it overnight. I took full responsibility for it. It was a farcical situation. It didn&rsquo;t pan out particularly well on the day. But I had to hold my hands up.&rdquo;<br /><br />Richards, 46, resigned earlier this month despite escaping punishment when ERC delivered its initial judgement. But Williams brought new evidence to the table at yesterday&rsquo;s appeal hearing, dramatically changing the verdict.<br /><br />Williams was withdrawn during the 6-5 defeat to Leinster with a bloody mouth, allowing them to bring specialist goal-kicker Nick Evans back onto the field.<br /><br />Ex-Leicester boss Richards yesterday admitted faking the injury and organising a cover-up of the incident. England and ex-Quins physio Steph Brennan also admitted faking and covering up the injury, and was given a two-year ban. The committee also heard that Richards and Brennan had orchestrated similar incidents before.<br /><br />&ldquo;During the hearing it was disclosed that there had been four previous occasions in non-ERC tournaments in which Mr Richards and Mr Brennan had fabricated a wound or blood injury,&rdquo; read the judgement. &ldquo;Details will be passed to the relevant tournaments organiser.&rdquo;