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RUGBY UNION: London Welsh chairman on RFU penalty
2:40pm Saturday 9th March 2013 in Rugby
London Welsh chairman Bleddyn Phillips has reiterated the club's determination to challenge the ruling from an RFU panel of inquiry this week.
The club, who play their home games at the Kassam Stadium, were handed a five point deduction in the Aviva Premiership after being found guilty of fielding an ineligible player.
They will be appealing the ruling, which also led to the club being fined £15,000 and having a further five-point deduction suspended until the end of next season.
A separate hearing found the club's former team manager Mike Smith given a life ban.
Phillips confirmed the Exiles would be appealing the "unnecessarily harsh and disproportionate sanction".
His statement is as follows: "The club, and indeed the RFU, was the unwitting victim of a fraudulent act which the club sought to address in the appropriate manner as soon as it became aware of it.
"It takes exception to the comment by the Chairman of the Panel, Mr Summers, in the RFU press statement released on Thursday evening, that 'the matter..included conduct that was dealt with by the police..' which might by some be taken as implying that the club itself was somehow complicit in such conduct.
"In fact, it was the club itself which had unearthed the fraudulent act by its former Team Manager, and reported it immediately to the police (and the RFU).
"As a result, the individual in question has been cautioned by the police and, at a Misconduct Hearing yesterday, has been suspended for life from the game of Rugby Union by His Honour Judge Jeff Blackett, who noted that this individual had dishonestly misled both the Club and the RFU. "As the Misconduct Hearing itself reported yesterday, this is a very sad case where discredit has been brought upon the individual concerned and the Club.
"Any suggestion that the Club had any complicity in these criminal acts would be false and unfair.
"Similarly unfair and harsh is the suggestion in the Decision of the RFU Panel that the Club was somehow acting intentionally in the matter and had authorised the actions of its Team Manager.
"This was clearly not the case as was recognised also in the decision yesterday of HHJ Jeff Blackett.
"Further, the club has, in the course of the season, properly and expeditiously registered a number of overseas players demonstrating it does have controls and checks in place. "What it could not do was stop a deliberately fraudulent act which was concealed from it and the RFU by its former Team Manager.
"We can be rightly proud of the way the Club, and the players and coaching staff in particular, have performed throughout the season notwithstanding the financial and operational challenges arising as a result of the Club's late entrance as a newcomer into the Premiership last summer.
"This point was also recognised in yesterday's decision.
"We will continue to give of our best for the remaining games of the season notwithstanding the obvious impact on the morale of players and supporters alike of such a Decision by the RFU Panel.”