As a rugby union fan and noted Harlequins supporter Jet frequently feels shame. Usually when someone asks me what football team I support and I reluctantly have to confess that I’m more of a Quins man. A lot of people don’t realise that Harlequins is a club so awesome that Bob Dylan wrote a song about us. Which I can quote you directly: “come all without, come all within, you’ll not see nothing like the Mighty Quin(n)”s.
Quins are so awesome in fact that we got to the quarter finals of the European Cup last year. And only lost by a point. Which is pretty hard to believe when you realise that Dean Richards, our coach, is a criminal mastermind so genius that he thought of a wheeze too blatant for anybody ever to suspect. Our goal kicker had been injured earlier in the game but now, as we faced another ignominious defeat in a game where we had played all the rugby, Tom Williams, our small but chippy winger, bit a blood capsule, faked an injury and was duly replaced by our kicker. Who duly shanked the kick that might have won the match. Perhaps because he was actually injured.
What was it that gave us away? The huge cloud of fake blood that burst from Tom Williams’ mouth? His cunning wink to his teammates to notify them of his cunning? Dean Richards twirling his moustache and running off with the Heineken Cup in large bag labelled swag?
Who can say? But somehow the Mighty Quins were caught out and now the authorities have banned Williams for four months, down from the one year ban they gave him when Harlequins RFC mulled letting the 25 year old take full responsibility for the crime. Richards has been banned from rugby for three years. Apparently Quins attempted this cunning ruse on four other occasions (whether it resulted in winning any of those games, I do not know). Yes, it is cheating. But does comedy cheating really count? I mean nobody got hurt. Except for Tom Williams, whose physio then really did cut his mouth to like, totally cover it up.
Three years for Richards seems excessive to me. Schalk Burger, South Africa’s MVP, attempted to kill, or at least blind, Luke Fitzgerald in the second test against the Lions and his ban for eye gouging was a ludicrously lenient two months. It’s hardly as if Quins are the first team to have benefited from conveniently timed injuries. Aside from the cheating, Richards’ Quins had been playing good rugby, running with the ball and everything. But now he’s been doomed, cruelly, to eke out a living on the underground rugby scene. And it’s not like we even won the game. Surely the ends justify the means?