Dean Richards accuses England of cheating at 2003 Rugby World Cup

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‘England used fake blood’: Former Harlequins director and ‘bloodgate’ mastermind Dean Richards accuses 2003 World Cup winners – but Sir Clive Woodward labels claim ‘ridiculous’

  • Dean Richards said faking injuries was common practice for 2003 England team
  • Richards was banned in 2009 for his part in the Harlequins fake blood scandal 
  • Suggestions were dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ by former coach Sir Clive Woodward 

Former Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards has accused England of cheating to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup – however his suggestions have been dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ by coach Sir Clive Woodward.

Richards was banned for three years in 2009 for his part in the Harlequins fake blood scandal, but has claimed that the incident was not unusual in rugby at that time.

The former England forward was not part of the squad which triumphed in Australia in 2003, but said he was told by a member of that team that faking injuries to gain an advantage was common practice.

Dean Richards has accused England of cheating to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup

Dean Richards has accused England of cheating to win the 2003 Rugby World Cup

Richards said he was told that faking injuries to gain an advantage was common practice

Richards said he was told that faking injuries to gain an advantage was common practice

His suggestions were dismissed as 'ridiculous' by former England coach Sir Clive Woodward

His suggestions were dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ by former England coach Sir Clive Woodward

In a documentary due to be aired on talkSPORT, Richards said: ‘The use of fake blood, cutting players, re-opening wounds, feigning injury in the front row, jabbing players with anesthetic all occur regularly throughout the game. Rugby World Cup 2003. England used fake blood.’

Richards, who played 48 tests for England, was director of rugby at Quins when team officials cut the mouth of wing Tom Williams and used a fake blood capsule from a joke shop during a game against Leinster.

They cheated in order to get kicker Nick Evans back onto the field as a blood replacement. 

George Robson, who also played for Quins in that game, told talkSPORT he came off with a fake blood injury against Leicester.

Richards was banned for three years in 2009 for his part in the Harlequins fake blood scandal

Richards was banned for three years in 2009 for his part in the Harlequins fake blood scandal

‘I acted as a blood substitute, having a piece of gauze with some blood on it on my head,’ the former lock said. ‘That wasn’t my blood, I don’t know if it was blood, I presume it wasn’t.’

‘My understanding was, this is the protocol, and the rationale is that it’s going to help us win a rugby game.

‘I didn’t see anything wrong with that. I didn’t think this is crazy or ridiculous and, 10 years on when I speak to people I work with or study with and share some of that insight, they look at me as if I’ve got three heads.’

However Woodward has dismissed Richards’ claim about the World Cup team was ‘absolute nonsense’.

He said: ‘This is simply not true. I am not sure why Dean raised this. I have never been involved in anything like this. It is ridiculous.’ 

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