London Welsh made to sweat on appeal ruling
March 21, 2013
London Welsh were deducted points and fined for fielding the ineligible scrum-half Tyson Keats © PA Photos
Aviva Premiership club London Welsh face an anxious wait to discover the outcome of their appeal against a five-point deduction and £15,000 fine for fielding an ineligible player.
Welsh paid a heavy price for failing to register scrum-half Tyson Keats correctly earlier this season with an investigation finding that the New Zealand-born No.9 played 10 matches before the right paperwork had been submitted. The club insist that they cannot be held responsible for the criminal activity of former team manager Mike Scott, who gave false information to both the club and the RFU over Keats' visa, and has since been handed a life ban from the sport.
The appeal hearing took place in London earlier today with the Rugby Football Union announcing tonight that a three-man panel chaired by Gareth Rees QC will now consider its decision, which will be "communicated in due course".
The original verdict described Scott, who has accepted a police caution, as a "rogue employee" but it also criticised both London Welsh and the RFU for not being more vigilant. Chief executive Tony Copsey was confident ahead of the appeal, commenting: "We feel we have a very good case. They are holding London Welsh responsible for the actions of an individual that worked for the club who went out of his way to deceive both the RFU and the club.
"The verdict was harsh and disappointing, especially given some of the evidence about how this whole process happened. I think we should be judged by the RFU standards as much as London Welsh standards. We were both given false information. As a club we unearthed that false information.
"The RFU were aware of the facts as much as were - a different set of facts - and had their suspicions and did not act upon it. If we are going to be held up, we should be held up by their standards. They have a duty for the protection of this process as well."
Keats was eventually registered correctly via an ancestry visa and Copsey believes that the fact the player was always able to play in the country should count in their favour. Copsey said: "The ancestry visa is a three-week process and he qualified for that. There was no reason Tyson shouldn't have been playing (except) this guy cocked up his application and tried to cover up being poor at his job. This is not an administration cock-up. It is not like they made a mistake under all the pressure of the time. They were deceived by an employee."
London Welsh coach Lyn Jones, whose side slumped to the bottom of the table as a result of the points deduction, is also hoping an agreeable resolution at the appeal hearing that comes on the eve of their latest Premiership clash against Gloucester.
"We were surprised and disappointed by the original judgement," said Jones, who led London Welsh to four victories in those 10 matches. I am aware of how honourable the people who run London Welsh are. I am pretty confident that it will come to a sensible conclusion."
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