English Rugby
Quins chief apologises to fans
August 8, 2009
Bloodgate begins ... Harlequins wing Tom Williams walks from the field, Harlequins v Leinster, Heineken Cup quarter-final, Twickenham Stoop, April 12, 2009
Harlequins chief Mark Evans has committed himself to helping Tom Williams © Getty Images

Harlequins chief executive Mark Evans has penned an open letter to fans, apologising for the club's recent involvement in the fake blood injury scandal.

In the letter Evans laments the events that lead to director of rugby Dean Richards leaving his post with the club and committs himself to reducing the sanction against winger Tom Williams. He also outlines his desire to ensure the club's participation in the Heineken Cup next season.

Williams has been banned for 12 months, and the club fined €250,000 (£215,000) with half suspended for two years, after being found guilty of fabricating a blood injury in order to allow fly-half Nick Evans to return to the field in their Heineken Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster in April.

Williams and the club are set to appear before an independent appeals panel in Glasgow on Monday after the player chose to fight his ban and ERC took issue with the leniency of the sanction against the club.

"Our focus as a club now is to reduce Tom Williams' ban which we felt was disproportionate and to ensure that we do not get expelled from European rugby," he wrote. "The club has accepted the findings of the initial ERC inquiry and has accepted the sanction.

"The scale of the sanction is unprecedented in the game and the severity of the fine is a clear message, not only to our club but to the game as a whole, that this type of behaviour is not acceptable and will be severely punished. We entirely agree with that message and sincerely hope that no further sanctions are imposed upon a club whose presence in the Heineken Cup is based on playing merit and playing merit alone."

Evans revealed that he had written to Leinster in order to apologise on behalf of the club and also that the search for Richards' replacement would not be rushed. The former Leicester and England No.8 fell on his sword following an internal review, and now faces further sanction if the original innocent verdict against him is overturned on appeal.

"Dean Richards' departure raises several questions in relation to the management of the playing side at the club," Evans continued. "The appointment of a Director of Rugby is a key decision and not one that we as a club will be rushed into. The last appointment took three months and is a lengthy and in-depth process.

"We may restructure internally or we may seek a direct replacement. I have every faith in the abilities of our existing coaching team of John Kingston, Colin Osborne and Tony Diprose who have all been involved with the club for many years. They will temporarily take on some of the responsibilities left by Dean's departure."

No.8 Nick Easter has admitted that the club has been rattled by events, but also spoke of how the players are rallying around Williams and appreciated the efforts of Richards.

"The guy has been under tremendous strain about the whole thing," said Easter. "We went out for lunch with him yesterday and had a relaxed time and he seemed better in the company of the players rather than thinking about it all the time.

"To be stuck in the middle of it, you certainly wouldn't want it to happen to you. The club is shocked. Everyone has taken a hammering. It is upsetting and disruptive. What Deano has done over the last few years has been tremendous."

© Scrum.com

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