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from Left field:

Rugby union’s black summer

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It has been a black summer for rugby as the game that likes to claim the moral high ground in matters sporting has been exposed as being perfectly able get down in the gutter with the best of them.

On Saturday Dean Richards, a former policeman and stoic rugby stalwart for three decades, resigned as director of rugby at Harlequins in the wake of the London club's shenanigans in their Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat by Leinster last season.

Tom Williams was banned for 12 months for faking a blood injury when he spat out a gush of bright red liquid - his fate all but sealed by a sit-com wink to the bench captured in all its dumb glory by TV cameras.

Quins were also fined 215,000 pounds for  their role in the incident - or their refusal to co-operate fully in the subsequent investigation - and Heineken Cup officials have appealed against Richards and club medical staff being cleared of any wrong-doing.

from Left field:

Players, fans unite behind the Lions

RUGBY-LIONS/All professional sportsmen talk about how important their supporters are but when it comes to the British and Irish Lions there really is a special bond.

Defying the credit crunch, up to 30,000 fans are expected to travel to South Africa to follow the Lions in their three-test series against the world champions.

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