LONDON Welsh have been hit with a five point deduction and a £15,000 fine after being found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in 10 Aviva Premiership matches this season.
Scrum-half Tyson Keats played for the Exiles without holding effective registration with governing body the Rugby Football Union, an RFU Premiership Regulations Panel of Inquiry, chaired by Jeremy Summers, ruled.
Despite being born in New Zealand, Keats was registered as English but was only in the country on an ancestry visa as his maternal grandfather was born in the England, and not registered correctly before the season began.
“This was an extraordinary case and one that is hoped will never be repeated,” said Summers.
“The sanction imposed was structured to reflect the seriousness of the matter which included conduct that was dealt with by the police, but also to import a rugby-based proportionality to the overall position that took into account the wider interests of the game.”
Welsh, just three points clear of bottom club Sale Sharks before the verdict, were also handed a further five point deduction, suspended until the end of the 2013-14 season.