Phillips fumes at RFU ruling
London Welsh chairman Bleddyn Phillips has blasted the Rugby Football Union for the sanctions they imposed on the club for fielding an ineligible player in 10 matches.
The Aviva Premiership side were hit with a five-point deduction and fined £15,000 after their former team manager Mike Scott fraudulently submitted false documents to the governing body. Scott forged a passport and supplied other "false and misleading information" as he desperately tried to cover up the fact he had not secured the right visa for New Zealand-born Tyson Keats.
"I can confirm that London Welsh RFC is appealing the decision of the RFU Panel and would like to thank its supporters and numerous well wishers for their sympathy and understanding regarding what the club considers was an unnecessarily harsh and disproportionate sanction imposed on it by the RFU Panel of Inquiry," said Phillips in a statement.
Scott, who received a police caution for fraudulently submitting false documents to the Rugby Football Union, was banned from the sport for life on Friday. However, Phillips argued the club was "the unwitting victim of a fraudulent act" and that it was the club who pointed out Scott's wrongdoing in the first place.
Phillips added: "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)."
The RFU's disciplinary chief Judge Jeff Blackett banned Scott from the management, coaching or playing of rugby union and membership of any club for life.
Phillips added: "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."