London Welsh appeal decision due on Tuesday
March 25, 2013
London Welsh were deducted points and fined for fielding the ineligible scrum-half Tyson Keats © PA Photos
Aviva Premiership club London Welsh will discover the outcome of their appeal against a five-point deduction and £15,000 fine for fielding an ineligible player on Tuesday.
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 last week with a three-man panel chaired by Gareth Rees QC subsequently retiring to consider its decision that the RFU have confirmed will be announced tomorrow. The original punishment saw Welsh slump to the bottom of the Premiership table and their survival hopes took a further blow at the weekend with a narrow defeat to Gloucester that followed a victory for relegation rivals Sale Sharks against Bath.
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 is also hoping an agreeable resolution but has vowed to keep fighting regardless. "When I joined London Welsh I said there wasn't an experience in rugby that I hadn't come across, but I was wrong. What is going on is another test that is energy-sapping," Jones said. "We just (need) to try to keep our focus on what we can influence, which is results and the scoreboard. We need to keep believing."
Jones added: "When you are a professional sportsman, 80% of the time is dealing with rejection and disappointment, and you have to have a mental toughness to deal with that. There is nothing we can do in terms of the appeal, but when we are on the field we can do something about it, which is what I keep telling the players.
"We need to turn up next Saturday at Bath and do the best we can, and then likewise against Northampton, London Irish and Worcester. Can we win the four games? Potentially, we can."
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