The West Coast Rugby Union has been fined $4000 for breaching player eligibility regulations in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship.
The breach saw West Coast field an ineligible player in the first four rounds of the 2018 competition, when the player was recorded as a ‘local player’, despite not meeting the relevant criteria.
A New Zealand Rugby appointed Panel heard that West Coast brought the breach to the attention of New Zealand Rugby as soon as they were aware of the issue and immediately stood the player down.
The panel accepted West Coast’s explanation that the breach was the result of an administrative error and was not deliberate.
Panel Chairman Andrew Golightly noted the integrity of the competition is paramount and that it is critical for all unions to comply with regulations.
In setting the penalty the panel considered previous fines imposed for eligibility breaches and confirmed West Coast will have to pay a $4000 fine (with half of that amount to be suspended and only payable should they breach eligibility regulations again during the next five years).
The panel considered a deduction of competition points but determined this would be an unfair penalty in the circumstances of a non-deliberate breach.
West Coast Rugby is currently eighth on the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship table and host East Coast this weekend in their final match of the regular season. A win would secure a place in the Lochore Cup semifinals.