London Welsh charged with fielding ineligible player
February 26, 2013
London Welsh insist no fault lies with the player himself - scrum-half Tyson Keats © PA Photos
London Welsh are to face a Rugby Football Union competitions hearing after being charged with fielding an ineligible player in this season's Aviva Premiership.
The issue relates to the registration of scrum-half Tyson Keats, who has made 13 Premiership appearances for the Exiles this season since joining them from now-defunct Italian side Aironi. The Telegraph reports that he was registered as an English player when in fact he required a visa to play in the Premiership due to being born in New Zealand.
The matter was brought to the RFU's attention by the club following an internal investigation earlier this month with a hearing set to take place in London on March 5.
The RFU have also said that London Welsh's former rugby manager Mike Scott is the subject of a separate RFU disciplinary hearing relating to the registration of the same player. Scott has been charged under RFU Rule 5.12 for 'conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union or the Game' Scott's case will be heard at a later date.
London Welsh, who were promoted from the Championship last season, are currently three points above bottom club Sale Sharks with six rounds of the regular season remaining. However, they face the possibility of a considerable points reduction that will jeopardise their hopes of preserving their top flight status.
The club have since issued a statement in which they stress that no fault lies with Keats. "This is obviously a serious matter which the club has not only brought to the attention of the RFU, but is also working closely with the RFU to provide full co-operation while the case is being prepared and ultimately heard next week," said London Welsh chief executive Tony Copsey. "Due to the sensitive nature and the impending hearing, the club is unable to make any further comment at this time."
The last Premiership club to be docked points were Exeter. They received a two-point deduction and £5,000 fine in April 2011 for fielding too many overseas players in a league game against Leeds Carnegie.
London Welsh resume their Premiership campaign against Saracens at Allianz Park on Sunday.
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