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Sale docked five match points for fielding an ineligible player

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Sale will finish bottom of Pool Two in the Premiership Rugby Cup after having five match points deducted for fielding an ineligible player for their March 19 game versus Wasps. The Sharks only had a slim-to-none chance of making the semi-finals ahead of Tuesday night’s match away to Harlequins, but the outcome of a disciplinary hearing on Monday night instead left them rock bottom of their group regardless of the result in London. 

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Alex Sanderson’s team fell foul of tournament rules after they included ex-Bristol player Alex Groves in their squad for their recent round three match. A Premiership Rugby statement read: “A case involving Sale Sharks was heard on papers last night [Monday] by an independent disciplinary panel chaired by Philip Evans with Rob Vickerman.

“It relates to the Premiership Cup match that took place on 19 March between Sale and Wasps. Sale included Alex Groves in its match squad and he had previously represented Bristol Bears on November 11 in the Premiership Rugby Cup. 

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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots
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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots

“This was in breach of the Premiership Rugby Cup regulations, paragraph 6.3 – A club may not be represented in the competition by any person who has played or been a replacement or substitute (i.e. included in the match squad) for another club in the competition in the current season. The club accepted a charge and received a five-point deduction, applicable for this season.”

Panel chair Evans said: “Sale came before an RFU disciplinary panel charged with a regulatory breach, which resulted from their inclusion of an ineligible player in the match squad for the Premiership Rugby Cup match against Wasps.

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“The club indicated in advance of the hearing that it accepted the charge. The matter was then decided by the disciplinary panel on the basis of written submissions it had received, the club choosing not to exercise its right to an oral hearing. The RFU submitted the appropriate sanction for this breach would be a five-point deduction because that would be in line with the minimum sanction that would be applied in other RFU competitions in the event that ineligible players are named in match squads.  

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“Sale did not advance any alternative submissions and the panel agreed with the RFU’s reasoning. The sanction imposed will be a five-point deduction from Sale in this competition.”

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