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London Welsh could face Premiership KO over Tyson registration charge

London Welsh's Tyson Keats. Photo: Tony Marshall/EMPICS London Welsh's Tyson Keats. Photo: Tony Marshall/EMPICS

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
8:44 AM

London Welsh will go into Sunday’s Aviva Premiership game against Saracens with their top-flight survival hanging in the balance after being charged with fielding an ineligible player in “a number” of Premiership games this season.

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The Premiership newcomers have been summoned to appear at a Rugby Football Union competitions hearing on Tuesday and the issue relates to the registration of scrum-half Tyson Keats, who, it is understood, was ineligible for nine of the 13 Premiership fixtures he featured in.

Welsh are currently three points above bottom club Sale Sharks and two behind 10th-placed London Irish.

Should the Keats matter go against them, they could be facing a considerable points deduction - possibly enough to relegate them - and probable fine.

English rugby’s governing body also said that London Welsh’s former rugby manager Mike Scott is the subject of a separate RFU disciplinary hearing relating to the registration of the same player.

Scott has been charged under RFU Rule 5.12 for “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union or the Game”. Scott’s case will be heard at a later date.

London Welsh say they brought the matter to the RFU’s attention after conducting an internal investigation earlier this month.

The club also said they wanted to stress than no fault in the matter resides with 31-year-old New Zealander Keats.

London Welsh chief executive Tony Copsey said: “This is obviously a serious matter which the club has not only brought to the attention of the RFU, but is also working closely with the RFU to provide full co-operation while the case is being prepared and ultimately heard next week.

“Due to the sensitive nature and the impending hearing, the club is unable to make any further comment at this time.”

The panel for next Tuesday’s hearing will be chaired by Jeremy Summers, who will be joined by Premiership Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty and Dr Julian Morris.

Welsh’s arrival in the Premiership was not confirmed until last summer, and only then after winning their appeal against a RFU ruling that they had not met sufficient criteria to gain Premiership entry, namely primacy of tenure at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium where they have played their home games this term.

The appeal panel agreed with the club’s argument that the applied criteria contravened EU and UK competition laws, and Newcastle were relegated after finishing bottom of the Premiership last season.

Keats, joined London Welsh from now-defunct Italian club Aironi. He started last Saturday’s Premiership game against Exeter and has been an important part of their debut top-flight campaign.

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