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Evans recounts controversial day

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Sportal.co.nz     08 Apr 2013     Getty Images

Evans was one of the central figures in the controversial incident when Harlequins coach Dean Richards attempted to get Evans, who had suffered a knee ligament injury, back onto field with wing Tom Williams taking a fake blood capsule to allow a blood bin change in the quarter-final against Leinster. Richards received a three-year ban from coaching for his part in the action which involved getting Evans back onto the field in the absence of a goal-kicker.

Evans related his feelings on the incident to the British media ahead of his side's 12-18 loss to Munster in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

He said there were two games in his career he had never watched again. The Bloodgate game was one and the All Blacks' quarter-final loss to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup was the other.

As for the Bloodgate game, Evans said, "It was really tough for me. It felt like the club was imploding. People were questioning why I play rugby and my part in it - they were questioning my integrity and I took quite a big offence at that.

"Having been involved in the whole process, I had to go to the hearings and I heard the kind of things that were going on and what was going to happen to the club.

"I honestly didn't think we would even get up to where we were before never mind where we are now."

Evans said much stricter regimes were now in place on blood and concussion injuries and while he wasn't proud of those days he said it was part of his career and part of the club's history.

"It is not the greatest part but no regrets. I was just doing my job.

"You get told to do something and as a rugby player the guys out there put their bodies on the line. We do it for the love of the club and four our coaches.

"It was a pretty tough time, especially going back home and people asking 'What is happening?'.

"You say, 'It's been going on for a while and I'm sure it's happened to a lot of other clubs as well'."

But once reprimands had been dished out to those who called the shots, Evans' view was that it was all about getting the club back on its feet. That resulted in Evans twice eschewing the chance to play in France or Japan while staying with the club.

The aftermath of the incident had been tough as the club fought to survive.

"I think we kind of knew as a group it was going to be a year of just surviving, letting water get under the bridge. The best thing was getting back with the guys and just getting through that year.

"Once people had been given the reprimands they got, it was all about getting the club back on its feet," he said.

He said the club's success in winning the 2011 Amlin Challenge Cup and the 2012 Premiership was remarkable.

"I think it was because we got on so well and enjoyed playing the kind of rugby. That never changed. The basis of what the club is about never changed from the playing point of view.

"We couldn't control what was going on outside of that so we only concentrated on what we could and that was playing rugby the way we wanted to play," he said.