Paul Ackford on Bloodgate: “We have a right to feel aggrieved”

Former Harlequin and ex-England team mate of Dean Richards, Paul Ackford has spoken of his feelings regarding the ‘bloodgate’ affair. His former team mates Will Carling and Brian Moore have both come out and suggested that Richards has been made a scapegoat for the sport in the affair but Ackford is less keen to share that view.

Dean Richards

“The fact that he (Richards) orchestrated the cover up is one of the most shocking aspects of it all. Cheating in the heat of the action is one thing but these Directors of Rugby and the coaches who aren’t playing, part of their job description is to be cool and calculated about these sorts of things. To argue that it’s heat of the moment adrenaline stuff is erroneous. We’ve been let down by Quins, by Dean Richards and by Tom Williams and the whole sport has got its head in its hands at the moment.”

The last year in rugby union has seen recreational drug use heavily penalised, professional fouls and off the ball incidents have been high profile and the punishments associated with them kept very much in the public eye. This latest scandal comes in a long line of negative press for the sport.

Ackford is under no illusions about what needs to happen moving forward. “Rugby needs a period where things settle down. I dont think you can wipe the slate clean just by a series of administrative decisions, we just need six months or so without any eye-gouging, without any nonsense around uncontested scrummages or fake blood capsules, to let rugby settle down and for the sport itself, the way it’s played, to become the story as opposed to the cheating within it.”

Paul Ackford was speaking to Nick Heath for The Rugby Blog Podcast. For the full interview, this episode will be available on Friday 28th August on The Rugby Blog or download it from iTunes.

7 thoughts on “Paul Ackford on Bloodgate: “We have a right to feel aggrieved”

  1. Less than two month to the IOC decision on the inclusion of Rugby in the Olympics, this was the kind of publicity the Game didn’t deserve.
    A public statement from the IRB should be a good idea, to calm down the most nervous IOC members.

  2. How much worse is this going to get? As a (previously) devoted Quins supporter, I feel cheated and deeply saddened – more so with each new revelation. The Club’s achievements have been tainted to the point where I wonder whether we can ever hold our heads up again. Call me disingenuous, but I never thought I was watching a game where this level of cheating was both common, and acceptable. Win at all costs? Not with my support, in person or financially.

  3. After over 60 years of playing and watching rugby I am totally sickened by the downward spiral which ‘professionalism’ has brought about. “The love of money is truly the root of all evil”

  4. Just starting my 52nd season as player referee and assessor. The whole thing is a disgrace. Dean Richards should never coach again ,never mind being the scapegoat. He knew what he was doing. I watched the game and wondered what was going on. Glad it is out and sorted.

  5. I don’t care how competitive you need to be to succeed in sport, it can NEVER be acceptable to cheat, particularly when premeditated. I always said that I could have beaten Mike Tyson or Rocky Marciano by cheating – just take a gun into the ring. It’s exactly the same ethics; just slightly more obvious.

  6. I agree with Graham cheating is never acceptable in sport. It has however gone on from the moment sport was invented, and certainly in professional sport of all types. Why is this any different to the shocking behaviour of the Aussies several years ago at Twickenham, their scrum was under pressure. Two of their ‘props’ were injured at the same scrum, the last one so bad he was carried off, only to make a miraculous recovery and was playing the following week. The result uncontested scrums England loose an advantage, I could go on, the ‘Hand of Back’ and so on and so on.
    So is every type of cheating going to be punished with similar sanctions, or are we going to have a tarrif as we do for violent play.

    It seems that the punishment here is for covering up rather than the actual cheating. Yes Dean Richards was a silly boy but come on, did all the great and the good of Rugby who are condeming Dean always play to the letter of the law, I think not.

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