x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

'Rugby was in need of clean up'

Eddie Jones believes the Bloodgate scandal needed to happen in order to flush a growing culture of cheating from the game.

Rugby union's image is in the gutter following the Bloodgate scandal.
Rugby union's image is in the gutter following the Bloodgate scandal.

Eddie Jones, the former Australia coach, believes the Bloodgate scandal needed to happen in order to flush a growing culture of cheating from the game. Rugby union's reputation has been sullied following the incident during a European Cup match where Tom Williams, the Harlequins wing, was instructed to feign injury by using a vial of fake blood purchased from a joke shop.

The subsequent fall-out has seen the London side, who have long been seen as the aristocrats of English rugby, plunged into crisis. Jones said "everyone" attempts to push the laws of the game to suit themselves. He also believes Harlequins are not the only club to have used a fake blood ruse. The furore surrounding the incident, and the punitive action which followed, are likely to be a strong deterrent.

Dean Richards, who resigned as Harlequins coach, has been banned for three years, Williams received a reduced ban of four months, the club have been fined £215,000 (Dh1.28m) and former club physiotherapist Steph Brennan has been banned for two years. Chairman Charles Jillings has also resigned. "These things need to happen every now and then," said Jones, the former Saracens coach. "I think one or two clubs do it, and have done it previously. Apart from that, I don't think you will find many clubs that do it. It is a game that does require people to be cooperative in terms of the law.

"In the Premiership there is a lot of bending of the laws and I think you need something like this to ensure everyone does follow the laws. "Rugby is a game where the interpretation of the laws is enormous, and you have to play it in the spirit of the game. "Everyone tries to bend the laws as much as you can, but there is a limit you can go to and obviously the limit has been well and truly stepped over.

"The same thing has happened with scrummaging. Wasps, for example, have done it a number of times where they have gone to uncontested scrums at the end of the game." Harlequins, without a coach, face Wasps in their first game of the English Premiership season at Twickenham on Saturday. Jones thinks they will be hard pushed to repeat last season's second-place finish. "Dean Richards was an enormously strong character there, and ran a very good club," he said. "Him not being there is going to hit that club, so they could struggle."

pradley@thenational.ae For a preview of the English Premiership season, turn to s8-9.