RFU 'concerned' over Williams testimony

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The Independent Online

The Rugby Football Union have expressed their "concern" over Tom Williams' claims that he felt under pressure from Harlequins not to make a full disclosure on the events behind the 'Bloodgate' scandal.

Quins wing Williams told an independent appeals committee last week the club had offered him a new four-year contract plus other benefits and said in his written testimony, which was released yesterday, that chief executive Mark Evans and chairman Charles Jillings had asked him to consider a limited appeal solely against the length of his ban.



Williams was initially handed a 12-month suspension - reduced to four months after appeal - for chewing a fake blood capsule during the April 12 Heineken Cup defeat by Leinster.



Following the initial ban, Williams said Evans told him the club could face expulsion from the competition if he proceeded with a full-disclosure appeal.



Williams said he had initially accepted the offer of a new contract - and even admitted demanding even more from the club - but ultimately decided to tell all during last Monday's hearing.



The RFU will wait until full details are published of European Rugby Cup's appeal against the original sanctions placed on Quins over the affair before deciding whether to take further action.



RFU disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett said: "The material we reviewed over the weekend related only to the additional four occasions on which fake blood was used.



"On these new allegations, difficult though it might be, we must have the full information before we decide on next steps."



Blackett decided on Monday to take no further action against Quins players allegedly involved in four prior occasions of using fake blood.



Quins chief Evans refused to comment on Williams' testimony, telling Press Association Sport: "I'm not going to talk about anything like that. I haven't even seen the judgment."



That testimony led to then-director of rugby Dean Richards being banned from coaching for three years and physio Steph Brennan being handed a two-year suspension, while the club were fined just under £260,000.



The appeals committee decided they did not have any jurisdiction in the case of club doctor Wendy Chapman, although Williams told them she had complied with his request to cut his mouth in order to cover up the offence.



The 25-year-old's testimony was made public yesterday when ERC published the full written decision of the appeals committee, which convened for almost 14 hours in Glasgow just over a week ago.



It exposes the degree of pressure Williams felt he was under from the likes of Richards, Evans and Jillings to not reveal the full details behind 'Bloodgate'.



The wing, whose fake blood injury against Leinster allowed specialist kicker Nick Evans to return to the field, explained he had met Jillings on the morning of August 5, around two weeks after deciding to appeal his 12-month ban.



Williams said: "He started by apologising to me for the position I had been placed in. I am sure he was sincere.



"Charles then laid out a compensation offer to me. This consisted of payment of my salary while I was suspended, an assurance that I would be selected for the team on merit once my suspension ended, a two-year contract extension, a testimonial, a three-year employment opportunity with the club after I retired from playing, and an assurance that he would take a direct interest in my post-rugby career.



"He asked me what I was planning to do in relation to an appeal.



"Charles told me that he thought I should appeal, but that it should be on a limited basis focusing on the sanction and not the findings of fact.



"Charles said that if the ERC decided to convene a personal hearing and questions were asked of me that might incriminate other parties, I could simply refuse to answer those questions."



Williams revealed he had gone back to Quins demanding an apology, a contract extension on improved terms and that the club pay off the mortgage on his house.



He said Quins made a counter-offer which included an apology, a new-four year contract and extra holidays.



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