English Premiership club Harlequins were fined £215,000 (US$350,000) on Monday by the European Cup organizers for faking an injury in their European Cup quarter-final with eventual champions Leinster.
The club have the right to appeal against the punishment inflicted by European Rugby Cup (ERC), which also slapped a 12 month suspension on winger Tom Williams for his role in the faked injury where he left the field allegedly with a blood injury.
Half of the fine has been suspended for two years.
Williams came off in the dying minutes of their clash with Harlequins losing 6-5, permitting the English club to bring back on their New Zealand kicker Nick Evans — he had left the field of play injured in the 47th minute while his replacement Chris Malone also had to go off with an injury.
Television footage appeared to show Williams winking as he left the pitch. With the match delicately poised, Evans had a late attempt at a drop-goal to put Quins into the semi-finals — but his effort was wide of the posts.
However, ERC absolved the Harlequins’ director of rugby, former England playing great Dean Richards, and two of the club’s medical staff — which left the club a little puzzled at the heaviness of their punishment.
“We are both surprised and disappointed at this decision — particularly so in the light of the acquittal of Dean Richards [and the two medical staff] on similar or identical charges,” the club said in a statement. “The club and the player will consider their position in the light of the written judgement due to be handed down by the disciplinary commission.”
The ERC, though, were unequivocal in their dismay at the behavior of the club.
“It was the view of the committee that this was a very serious offense and one that damaged the reputation of the tournament and of rugby union,” they said in a statement. “Accordingly the committee imposed a fine of 250,000 euros on Harlequins, of which 50 percent is suspended for two years. The committee also suspended Mr Williams from playing rugby for a period of 12 months up to and including July 19 2010.”