Friday 23 August 2019

'Bloodgate is in my every waking thought' - Tom Williams to leave Harlequins 10 years after controversy against Leinster

Harlequins winger Tom Williams leaves the field in the incident that sparked 'Bloodgate' and cost Dean Richards his job and his reputation
Harlequins winger Tom Williams leaves the field in the incident that sparked 'Bloodgate' and cost Dean Richards his job and his reputation Newsdesk Newsdesk

Former Harlequins wing Tom Williams is set to leave his coaching role at the club at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old announced the news ahead of the 10-year anniversary of his role in the 'Bloodgate' scandal that shamed the sport.

Williams, who was persuaded to fake a mouth injury by biting on a blood capsule during Harlequins' Heineken Cup defeat to Leinster in 2009, is to pursue a career away from rugby having been a transition coach at the Twickenham Stoop since retiring in 2015.

He admitted his role in the incident at the time, but a decade on Williams is still dealing with his actions.

"More often than not, Bloodgate is in every waking thought that I have," said Williams in an interview with the Telegraph.

"Within rugby circles I will always be the player who was at the centre of that scandal. It will always be a stigma linked to my name."

Williams served a four-month ban while Harlequins were fined £260,000 and coach Dean Richards - now director of rugby at Newcastle - was banned for three years.

Doctor Wendy Chapman was suspended by the General Medical Council having agreed to cut Williams' lip in the changing room to make it appear the injury was real.

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Williams told the RFU disciplinary panel that the "wins at all costs" and "coercive" culture at Harlequins at the time led to the incident and he remains worried that his actions could still come back to haunt him by affecting his family's life.

"I was coerced into doing something infamously regrettable and shameful and that stigma is always going to stick by my name," he said.

"I worry that some kid is going to say something to my seven-year-old at school - 'you're daddy is a cheat', or something."

Williams played over 200 matches for Harlequins in a career spanning 13 years which saw him help the club lift European, Premiership and Anglo-Welsh Cup silverware.

On announcing his retirement, he told the club's official website: "Harlequins has been a part of everything that I have done for over 17 years - very nearly half my life.

"I've seen tremendous highs and experienced lows which have tested my resolve to breaking point. However, despite those I do feel incredibly fortunate to have been part of the recent history of this magnificent rugby club.

"The time is now right for me to take a change in my career and move away from rugby into corporate coaching."

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