London Welsh in limbo

Wed, 06 Mar 2013 08:20
Large tyson keats   lyn jones2 Large mark mccafferty Large tyson keats   lyn jones

London Welsh were left with an anxious wait after the outcome of a RFU competition hearing into allegations they'd fielded an ineligible player.

London Welsh were left with an anxious wait after the outcome of a Rugby Football Union competition hearing into allegations they'd fielded an ineligible player in New Zealander scrumhalf Tyson Keats was deferred Tuesday.

It is understood Keats could have played as many as nine league matches this season and if the case against London Welsh is proved they could be hit with a points deduction that would effectively relegate them from the English Premiership after only a season in the top flight.

However, a three-man RFU panel, including Premiership Chief Executive Mark McCafferty, left the Exiles in limbo on Tuesday when, after several hours, they issued a statement.

"The decision of an RFU Competition Hearing into charges that London Welsh fielded an ineligible player, Tyson Keats, in a number of Premiership matches this season, has been deferred," read the statement.

"The panel of Jeremy Summers [chairman], Mark McCafferty and Peter Budge will now consider their decision which will be communicated in due course."

London Welsh are currently engaged in a fight to avoid relegation alongside Sale and London Irish, with only the bottom club at the end of the regular season relegated.

They are three points above bottom club Sale and two behind 10th-placed Irish with five league games left.

London Welsh provided a record seven players for the victorious British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 1971, including captain John Dawes as well as Wales greats JPR Williams, Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies and John Taylor, now the club's managing director.

But, having been wary of full-time professionalism after Rugby Union became an 'open' game in the 1990s, London Welsh made their first appearance in the Premiership this season.

However, promotion was not confirmed until after last term following the club's appeal against a RFU ruling they'd contravened Premiership entry criteria in not having primacy of tenure at Oxford United football club's Kassam Stadium.

But an appeal saw the club argue successfully the criteria contravened European Union and domestic competition laws, and north-east side Newcastle were relegated having finished bottom of the Premiership.

Welsh are playing at the Kassam, some 50 miles away from their base in Richmond, south-west London, as their home ground of Old Deer Park does not satisfy Premiership regulations.


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