Jones upbeat over appeal chances
London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones is confident of a "sensible resolution" when the club's appeal against a five-point deduction is heard in London this afternoon.
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The Exiles were docked five points, fined £15,000 and had a further five-point penalty suspended for fielding an ineligible player, Tyson Keats, in their first 10 matches of the season.
London Welsh maintain they should not be held responsible for the criminal activity of former team manager Mike Scott, who gave false information to both the club and the RFU over Keats' visa.
"We were surprised and disappointed by the original judgement," said Jones, who led London Welsh to four victories in those 10 matches.
"I am aware of how honourable the people who run London Welsh are. I am pretty confident that it will come to a sensible conclusion."
The points deduction plunged London Welsh, who had battled so hard against the odds to give themselves a strong chance of survival, to the bottom of the Aviva Premiership, two points adrift of Sale Sharks.
Scott made a mistake when he applied for an ancestry visa for Keats, the New Zealand-born scrum-half, but instead of re-submitting the form he attempted to cover it up.
Scott told the club that a visa had been granted and he submitted false documents to the RFU, including a forged passport, in a bid to pass Keats off as having been born in England.
The original verdict described Scott, who has accepted a police caution, as a "rogue employee" but it also criticised both London Welsh and the RFU for not being more vigilant.
Chief executive Tony Copsey said: "We feel we have a very good case.
"They are holding London Welsh responsible for the actions of an individual that worked for the club who went out of his way to deceive both the RFU and the club.
"The verdict was harsh and disappointing, especially given some of the evidence about how this whole process happened. I think we should be judged by the RFU standards as much as London Welsh standards.
"We were both given false information. As a club we unearthed that false information.
"The RFU were aware of the facts as much as were - a different set of facts - and had their suspicions and did not act upon it.
"If we are going to be held up, we should be held up by their standards. They have a duty for the protection of this process as well."
Asked whether the RFU should therefore also be fined if the London Welsh appeal fails, Copsey said: "Yes. The bottom line, yes."
London Welsh also argue that the case over Keats' registration is different to other situations where clubs have fielded ineligible players because there was no "sporting advantage".
Copsey said: "The ancestry visa is a three-week process and he qualified for that. There was no reason Tyson shouldn't have been playing (except) this guy cocked up his application and tried to cover up being poor at his job.
"This is not an administration cock-up. It is not like they made a mistake under all the pressure of the time. They were deceived by an employee."