English Rugby
Premier Rugby act in aftermath of 'bloodgate'
August 23, 2009

Premier Rugby are set to fast-track new regulations that they hope will prevent a repeat of the 'bloodgate' scandal.

Chief executive Mark McCafferty has revealed new injury checks are set to be brought in for this season's Guinness Premiership that will see players leaving the field with blood injuries assessed by opposition medical experts to confirm there is no attempt to cheat.

Former Harlequins physiotherapist Steph Brennan resigned from his role with the Rugby Football Union in the latest chapter of the long-running saga, after being banned for two years by European Cup disciplinary chiefs following his role in the original incident.

Rugby union is still reeling from the fall-out of last season's Heineken Cup quarter-final between Quins and Leinster, and the damaging fake blood scandal that saw Brennan, former Quins rugby director Dean Richards and player Tom Williams all banned.

McCafferty is determined to avoid any similar incidents in the Premiership.

"I will be talking to the clubs and the board about regulations that will allow the opposing team doctor to verify any blood injury and I cannot see anyone objecting to this," he told the Mail on Sunday. "Such a sanction will provide the deterrent to ensure blood capsules and fake blood injuries will never happen again.

"We have a scheduled board meeting on September 3 and I see no reason why this new rule cannot be in place in time for Sale's game against Leicester the following night."

The Rugby Football Union are currently investigating four other similar incidents involving Harlequins that were uncovered by the European Rugby Cup investigation.

"I will be proceeding under rule 5:12 of the laws of the game that focuses on bringing the game into disrepute and conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or game," Jeff Blackett, the RFU's honorary disciplinary officer, told the newspaper.

"The case appears to be very serious. We are especially interested in the admission that Harlequins attempted to cheat on four other occasions in league games. There is no precedent here. I cannot check on what action was taken the last time we had a disrepute case involving blood capsules because we've never had one before, but I can say that we can take action against a player, an official or a team as they are all subject to jurisdiction from the union.

"My remit is wide-ranging on this in terms of subsequent action and this could include the docking of points. But I cannot really say what, if anything, will happen until I have seen all the evidence and reached a decision."

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