Premiership chiefs hopeful of blood sub accord
August 27, 2009
Mark McCafferty hopes that an agreement can be reached on new regulations for blood injuries © Getty Images
Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation for the 12 Guinness Premiership clubs, hopes that a new voluntary agreement designed to prevent a repeat of 'bloodgate' will be in place by the start of the new season.
Chief executive Mark McCafferty has revealed that talks to allow the opponent's team doctor to inspect wounds during blood replacements have progressed to an advanced stage, hopefully preventing a repeat of Harlequins' faking of a blood injury to winger Tom Williams during last season's Heineken Cup quarter-final loss to Leinster.
The move follows the announcement that match-day squads will be extended to 23 players, including a full front-row, to prevent uncontested scrums.
"I'm going to encourage the clubs to come to a voluntary agreement if there is blood on a player and he has to be replaced and the opposition doctor can verify it," he said. "The club doctors from each team are already there on a match day - so they don't need to do anything differently. We just need to give them the right to check a blood injury and confirm the player should be off.
"The idea has been well received, and we expect it to be in place before the season starts. Frankly if that rule had been in place at the Harlequins v Leinster game last April it would never have got to this stage.
"Almost for sure, there will be a blood injury during the opening weekend - and we need people to have confidence that what is going on is completely correct and proper. We have also taken steps to make sure the technical zones aren't as crowded in these high-pressure games and situations.
McCafferty admitted that the sport's reputation had taken a battering over a close-season that witnessed the 'bloodgate' scandal and drugs-related controversy at Bath that led to bans for four of their players.
"It's fair to say the image of rugby has taken a battering, and clearly the image of Harlequins has been damaged," he said. "Less than four months ago we, were finishing the season in glorious style - with Leicester being crowned champions in the tightest of games in front of a sell-out Twickenham crowd. We had a fantastic season last season, and the events of the summer have taken the gloss off that."