Quins chief makes Euro plea

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The Independent Online

The Harlequins chief executive Mark Evans has pleaded for his club not to be thrown out of European competition before Monday's appeal hearing into the fake blood scandal.

European Rugby Cup Ltd disciplinary officer Roger O'Connor has lodged an appeal against Harlequins' £215,000 fine – with 50 per cent suspended – in the belief it was too lenient. In an open letter of apology to supporters, Evans insisted Harlequins had been punished enough and deserved their place in this season's Heineken Cup. He wrote: "Our focus as a club now is to reduce Tom Williams' ban, which we felt was disproportionate, and to ensure that we do not get expelled from European rugby. The club have accepted the findings of the initial inquiry and accept the sanction.

"We sincerely hope that no further sanctions are imposed upon a club whose presence in the Heineken Cup is based on playing merit and playing merit alone."