Rugby’s ‘Bloodgate’: New, Messy Ways To Cheat

One of the main reasons a lot of Americans don’t care for soccer is flopping. In a meritocracy like the United States that prides itself on rugged individualism and ascetic Puritan roots, the idea of gaining an unfair advantage by theatrically throwing oneself on the field at the lightest touch is abhorrent. The stereotype of the effete Eurotrash soccer player in short shorts and highlighted fauxhawk writhing around like he just took a sledgehammer to the groin, while unfair, has some truth to it.

Rugby player

There’s a not-entirely-dissimilar controversy brewing now in another European sport - rugby. But rugby, while also foreign and unfamiliar to many Americans, has no room for flopping. No, when rugby players want to fake injury to obtain an unfair advantage, they do it like men - cutting themselves open and bleeding all over the place.

Like many sports, rugby doesn’t want its players bleeding all over the field/pitch/court, so bloody players must come out of the match until they get stitched up. Some players are now realizing that this “blood replacement” policy can be exploited for unfair advantage. It started with players intentionally cutting themselves to draw blood, but now players are realizing that, um, that sucks so why not just fake the whole thing?


Francis Baron, RFU chief executive, has already vowed to re-establish the integrity of the game in England in the aftermath of the `bloodgate’ affair at Harlequins following the faked blood substitution of winger Tom Williams.


One alleged technique is of cutting players behind the ear, then stitching the wound before reopening it to allow a blood replacement to come on.

It’s actually surprising that his hasn’t been used more extensively in sports. Basketball players could use it to get additional unofficial timeouts or substitutions. Same with football. Then again, have you ever gone out drinking with a rugby team? There are very few things they do that don’t end up involving blood. Or alcohol. Or unnecessary nudity. Seriously. Beware the bar invite from rugby players.