Ospreys facing probe over Januarie move
The Ospreys are reportedly facing a second investigation relating to this season's Heineken Cup campaign.
The Welsh regional side were fined and their Wales full-back Lee Byrne had a two-week ban quashed on appeal after he briefly appeared as a 16th player during their pool stage victory over Leicester last month. Ospreys' win meant they secured a quarter-final place, booking a tie against Biarritz in San Sebastian on April 10.
But it has now emerged that European Rugby Cup chiefs are probing the eligibility of Ospreys' South African scrum-half Ricky Januarie. According to a report in Wednesday's Guardian, Premier Rugby - the organisation that represents England's 12 Guinness Premiership clubs, including Leicester - queried Januarie's eligibility with ERC.
Januarie joined the Ospreys on loan from Cape Town-based Super 14 outfit the Stormers at the end of November, and is now back playing for them in South Africa.
Teams can add one player to their Heineken Cup squad during the tournament's pool stages, but competition rules state "he must have at least a three-month contract with the club."
The Stormers stated Januarie's move was a two-month deal when they announced his departure to Wales. He played in Ospreys' final four group games against Viadana (twice), Clermont Auvergne and Leicester.
ERC is now reportedly examining terms of Januarie's loan deal, and Ospreys could face a disciplinary hearing if they are deemed to have broken any rules. That could then result in another fine, points deduction or even expulsion from the competition.
The latter option would throw this season's Heineken Cup quarter-finals into chaos, with Leicester taking the eighth-seed spot and Northampton, currently England's sole quarter-final representatives, moving up to seventh.
Two ties would need to be rescheduled, with Leicester going to Munster instead of Northampton, who would tackle Biarritz rather than the Ospreys.