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Blood banned

This has been fascinating to watch unwind. It takes cheating to a higher plane and in the noble sport of Rugby Union.

Harlequins conspire to substitute a player for a kicker in the closing minutes of an important game in an attempt to engineer a last minute attempt at goal. He can only come on in the event of a blood injury so a player explodes a capsule of theatrical blood in his mouth. The kicker comes on and misses a kick by inches.

It has since been revealed that the player who faked the injury had the inside of his mouth cut prior to the game. He was originally banned for a year but that has now been reduced to four months and the coach - England legend Dean Richards - has been banned for three years for authorising the scam.

Harlequins have also been fined an amount of money the equivalent of 25m if it was Man Utd and are likely to be banned for ages from the main competitions, meaning the club may go out of business.
Pond Life

That is mental. What has happened to the sportsmanship is sports?


I saw this on the news this morning, and I was staggered at that level of cheating from a sportsman at that level. Pretty bloody dirty trick if you ask me. It'd have been a very hollow victory. I think the pre-meditated part of it was the most sickening. I think if the coach authorised the blood capsule, he should be banned from coaching at a professional level indefinatley.

They would have got away with it if the opposing team's coach hadn't noticed the substituted player wink at his bench as he was led off for "treatment".

Leinster (the other team) raised their suspicions with the RFU, video footage was then studied and no evidence of contact for the injury to have occurred could be found and an investigation launched.

it is a shame that footballers dont take a leaf out of the rugby boys book,and show the referees more respect

cheating seems to be endemic now at any sport at the top level.

Rugby Union seems to be the worst though. Collusion must have taken place between the coach, physio, captain and club doctor.

Dean Richards - one of the most respected men in English Rugby. Should be banned for life imo.

Tip of the iceberg.

is money the root of all this cheating evil?
Plastic Man

I can only laugh at all this mealy-mouthed preciousness being pontificated at the moment.

Let us get facts straight.

Rugby Union is inherently about cheating.

Once you get beyond the basics - pick it up and throw it behind you - the next skill set is learning how to cheat. But the important bit is - how to cheat, but not get caught.

The rules in Rugby Union are primarily designed to avoid 30 blokes kicking off simultaneously, killing each other and the majority of spectators. This is mainly due to the on-field participants "respecting the referee".

Respecting the referee to the extent that when he orders a break up of a fight, the combatants obey. Which is good because otherwise they would probably kill each other. And several bystanders. Which is a "good thing".

Now that rules have ensured that there is less likely to be utter carnage, the other rules are there essentially to be broken, but the the important bit is - break them, but not get caught.

For example, take the scrum - or more specifically the "dark arts" of the scrum.

The scrum is designed to be 8 blokes versus 8, variously gripping on to and pushing against each other in such a way, that if rugby wasn't such an obviously manly sporting pursuit, you might think it was invented in a 1970's San Francisco bath house.

The rules are designed such the intention of a scrum is to recycle a dead ball into play.

The reality is that before, during and after the scrum players inflict upon each other acts of punching, biting, gouging, deliberately collapsing the scrum etc. These are the "dark arts". In common parlance, these would be described as acts of grievous bodily harm. The referee has no idea what is going on, but will blow his whistle and make randomly pronouncements to pretend that he does.

There's a host of other instances of cheating in action. All through the game, there will be players trying to illicitly steal the ball when they know they shouldn't, stamping on opponents, gouging eyes, spear-tackling into the ground to maximise damage. Players will (allegedly) feign injury if their forwards are having there arses kicked, to make the scrum become uncontested.

But given that everyone cheers each other off and shakes hands at the end of the game, all the cheating seems to be forgotten.

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad this "bloodgate" business has been exposed and its perpetrators suitably punished. But I do wish those that are mincing around, wringing their hands and crying "woe is me", would step back and see that there are much more serious abuses of the rules that can be observed from the most junior level of the game. Perhaps it would be worth addressing these in the first instance.
Pond Life

Nice posting PM. I am gutted because even though i knew that these gentleman thugs battered each other i was convinced they played by the rules. Quite an eye opener. I'm no fan of Rugby and the game now may have dropped in my estimation even more.

Never been he same since they ditched cotton and went all high tech.

I'm sure this has been going on since Dickie Jeeps were a lad but the world has moved on since then

Thirty years ago Rugby Union was watched by a few old codgers, a couple of pissed up ex-players and the scrum half's mum.

No-one cared who won or lost as long as they got to dance round in a circle in the bar with their trousers round their ankles singing Hare Zumba, vomit copiously in the flowerbed outside the clubhouse and abuse the waiters in the local curry house.

The world's moved on now. The eyes of the world are watching for every misdemeanour. I'm sure parents everywhere will have watched the recent eyegouging incident in S Africa and Bloodgate with horror and thrown young William's rugby kit in the recycling bin.

What Dean Richards did takes cheating to a new level. The original incident was bad enough, but to then attempt to cover it up, and to lie about the cover up shows a complete lack of integrity rarely equalled in the dirty world of professional sport.

I agree, this has nothing to do with the historic on-field cheating but more to do with the exploitation of loop-holes and a reflection of the increasing amounts of money now flowing into the club game. It must be the thin end of the wedge. Richards' ban takes into account 3 other such instances so presumably this kind of thing is endemic and has been going on for years.
Sir Bulldog Craggwood

again i am astounded by the lateral thinking and wisdom of PlasticMan

*builds PlasticMan shrine alongside Bearing Buddha and McCann Wickerman*
Plastic Man

Do either of you go and regularly watch rugby at any level? In my opinion, these shenanigans aren't particularly related to money. Unfortunately the time of era of gentlemanly behaviour in sport is long gone. For me, the last bastion was cricket  - but the day when people automatically walked when they knew they were out has now generally been lost in the mists of time.

I can think of no other game, professional or otherwise, in which cheating is so endemic as in rugby union, or has rules so convoluted that Solomon himself could not reasonably be expected to adjudicate upon.

Rugby's laws have become so technical that it is virtually impossible to police them, even with the use of video referees.

For every change in the law to try and improve the game as a spectacle and for safety, the coaches' first step is to try and circumvent them. Last year saw the introduction of the experimental law variations, with an unwitting resultant increase in turgidity as sides adopted kicking high balls at one another until one side made a mistake.

Engineering replacements or manipulating injuries to a team's advantage is nothing new.

The scrum front row is the front line of brutality and intimidation and a highly technical and dangerous place to be. Laws were brought in at the more senior levels such that each team had to have  a minimum number of front row specialists on the subs bench. In the event that there were a number of of front row specialist players injured (including previously non-injured, tactically substituted players returned to the field of play), then the scrums became non-contested. Which handed the advantage to the side who's pack was taking a hammering. Cue regular uncontested scrums.

The French introduced a rule which upped the required number of specialist front row substitutes, but in the event that a side ran out of them through injury, then it was tough - you were down to 14 men. The number of games in France where uncontested scrums were needed plummeted.

This fake blood business is no different. Sides fake injuries to get a particular result, whether it be through uncontested scrums or the return of a specialist kicker.

American football is in some senses more honest, in that it allows the introduction of specialist sides during different phases of the game. In baseball, specialist pitchers are brought in dependent on the state of the game.

Even association football, which I despair of, is relatively simple enough to minimise the opportunities for cheating (relative to rugby). A bit of shirt-pulling and argy bargy in the penalty area perhaps, deliberate niggling/ diving/ fouling etc.?

To my mind, in this case, Harlequin's greatest sin was against sin number 1 - getting caught (see post above). It was a reasonably subtle way of engineering a substitution. I don't condone it - I hate it is as much as I hate people faking front row injuries, as much as I hate opposition players high tackling or taking cheap shots at Otley players (the terraces of which you will find me frequenting for many Saturday afternoons in coming months). Obviously, I don't have a problem with the Otley players doling it out though.

Dean Richards has taken the rap in this case. But such an event needed to have involved not just the medical/ coaching staff, but the entire squad, so that each knew their particular role in any given circumstance.

And I think one would have to be very naive to believe this is the first time such a scam has been enacted, and only by one side.

I seem to recall that in 1963 a certain Cassius Clay's glove mysteriously developed a slit while he was taking a beating from Henry Cooper.

So perhaps this business of technical abuses to gain an advantage is not a new thing. And how would history have viewed Our Henry if his glove had split and he went on to beat Mr Clay?
Pond Life

Have you considered doing a Plastic Man's Rugby Blithers?

Nice posting again PM. If i had the prizes and the savvy to get them out with the right postage on, i'd send you something.....
Pond Life

As an aside...

I'm working with a chap who is big rugby chap. He has played for Bristol. His dad, loves it, his grandad loves it. They are rugby nuts. He knows a couple of the Harlequin's squad.

He tells me that the thing that puts me of rugby people is that whole drinking other peoples sick and setting fire to their pubes thing is normally started by the worst players in the club. The forfeit for not doing such hilario things is not to play, my friend says that he always refuses but always gets a game as he is good. The shit ones start the games to get a pecking order sorted as to who will play.

Makes more sense now.
Sir Bulldog Craggwood

havent watched it in years - used to watch Otley a bit when i was a teenager and forced to play it at school. All i remember is you had to be on your toes all the time and quick on your feet unless you could punch very well yourself and didnt mind being assaulted several times on a wednesday afternoon

then one year they changed a lot of the rules and the scoring and i didnt stay interested once we got to sixform and could play association football instead
Plastic Man

Mr Life - despite my fabulous wealth, if you are having a problem deciding what to send me, it is always nice to receive a cheque in the post. I won't be offended.

I played rugby on and off at school, but gave up in my early 20's. I use to occasionally turn out for scratch sides, but the level of downright thuggery finally put me off. It wasn't so much the physicality of the game, but the snide off-the-ball punches etc. used as a means of intimidation. And this was in "friendly games". I've played a lot of football over the years, but have never experienced anything as bad, whether there was a referee present or not. In rugby, it's "all part of the game". Some people simply appear to enjoy being brutal and being brutalised.

I still enjoy watching the game. I like the technical aspects - the kicking, the scrummaging, the rucking etc. To me, that is its advantage over rugby league, which is more a straight up and down game, though I enjoy that too.

I've generally avoided the "rugby club scene", which as you suggest, can be downright boorish and can get totally out of hand. I don't mind others carrying on like that, but I don't want to be forced into joining in. A good few beers and a sing song is one thing, but I'd rather not partake in games involving forfeits which include imbibing excretions which should be disposed of hygienically.
Plastic Man

At risk of labouring the point, there is an interesting item in today's Telegraph - Brian Moore interviewing Dean Richards over the incident, with the headline, "Bloodgate: Dean Richards: I'm sorry I got caught. But I realise what I did was wrong".

The whole article is worth a read. This is an extract:

(Brian Moore) I started by asking how commonplace faking blood injuries was ...

Dean Richards: I was approached by a few players who had experienced it at other clubs and had experienced cutting. I was not prepared to go down that line. The blood substitution does give you an opportunity to get people off because it doesn't state how much blood and you have the right to take somebody off. This was three or four years ago and they were overseas players. That's how we ended up with blood capsules.

Brian Moore: What made you consider this as an option?

DR: It was quite prevalent and the players felt other teams were having a material advantage by using it and they felt we were missing out.

I was privileged enough to enjoy a Grammar school education. Football was frowned upon and you were banned from playing at lunchtime with anything larger than a tennis ball.

The only sport we did in games lessons in winter was rugby. We were taught by a cartoon sadistic Welshman called Taffy Roberts, whose idea of fun was to make every one dive face down in the mud. If you put your hands out in front of you, then you had to do it again.

At the age of 14 i weighed about 3 st, and a tackle could be potentially fatal. As a result I learned that in the unlikely event of being passed the ball, the best thing to do was to kick it aimlessly or pass rapidly to an imaginary friend outside me.

It'd possible that these experiences  have clouded my judgement of the sport.

Plastic Man wrote:
This was three or four years ago and they were overseas players. That's how we ended up with blood capsules.

Blame it on the foreigners, how convenient. As if Richards isn't "man enough" to stand up to these immigrants, debasing our noble game.
Plastic Man

Butts wrote:
Plastic Man wrote:
This was three or four years ago and they were overseas players. That's how we ended up with blood capsules.

Blame it on the foreigners, how convenient. As if Richards isn't "man enough" to stand up to these immigrants, debasing our noble game.

My understanding of that statement was that Mr Richards was not happy with players being physically cut open to produce blood, but  preferred to go down the blood capsule route. Apart from the source of blood, he did not have any principles as to why that method of cheating was wrong. Perhaps they are Kosher/ Halal methods of displaying blood?

My understanding of the "foreigners" reference was that every other team is doing this, so why don't we?

I don't think that "foreigners" was intended as a disparaging comment, but as an indication of the general opinion of players from overseas, and more specifically, Southern Hemisphere players. But obviously, that is mere conjecture!
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