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.
“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.