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A decade after his role in Bloodgate, Williams finally calls it quits at Harlequins

Harlequins' Tom Williams walks off with physio Steph Brennan to be replaced by Nick Evans (not in picture) as blood pours from his mouth in the 2009 Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ten years after his involvement in the Bloodgate controversy during a European Cup quarter-final against Leinster, Harlequins have announced that academy transition coach and former player Tom Williams is leaving at the end of the current season to pursue a career outside of rugby.


Williams, who infamously bit into a fake blood capsule to enable Quins get kicker Nick Evans back onto the field in a match they lost 5-6, retired from playing after the 2014/15 season and joined the coaching set up to help develop and mentor talent coming through Harlequins academy. 

Over that period, Williams provided invaluable support both on and off the pitch for the club’s young players and ensured their seamless transition to the senior squad. Alongside this role, he was also a regular coach of the Harlequins A League side and supported the commercial arm of the club with its leadership programme, The Business Academy.

As a player, Williams amassed over 200 appearances for Harlequins in a career spanning 13 years which saw him play a pivotal role in securing European, Premiership and Anglo-Welsh Cup silverware. He was one of the first Harlequins academy graduates, setting him in good stead for his later career choice. He scored over 60 tries for the London club and was also selected to represent England 7s in the Hong Kong leg of the World Series in 2004.

On announcing his resignation, Williams said: “Harlequins has been a part of everything that I have done for over 17 years; very nearly half my life. I’ve seen tremendous highs and experienced lows which have tested my resolve to breaking point. However, despite those I do feel incredibly fortunate to have been part of the recent history of this magnificent rugby club.

“For 13 of those years I got to pull on the quarters and test myself against some of the best players in the world, all the while knowing that next to me fighting the same battle were some of the greatest people you could hope to meet.


“The Premiership final (in 2012) will obviously remain a key highlight and a lasting memory, but for me it was the moments in the changing room after a game, be it as winners or losers, which I will cherish the most – the ability to look around the room and see the levels your team-mates were prepared to go to achieve that victory.

“The time is now right for me to take a change in my career and move away from rugby into corporate coaching. I can’t wait to spend more time with my wife Alex, our three children Freddie, Arlo and India and to watch a Harlequins game without having to analyse it.

“Finally, I wanted to thank our supporters for everything you do in support of our club, without our people, we wouldn’t be the club we are.”

Chief executive David Ellis added: “Tom has made a valuable contribution to Harlequins in his 17-year tenure both on and off the pitch. As a player he was hugely respected, and a firm fan favourite given his role in one of the most successful periods in our history.


“As a coach in more recent times he has provided a number of our players with both playing and welfare support as they transition into the senior squad.

“We would like to wish Tom all the best in his future career and look forward to welcoming him back to The Stoop as a spectator for years to come.”

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