Northampton fined £60k over North

  • Last Updated: December 18 2013, 19:55 GMT

Northampton have been fined £60,000 for releasing George North for Wales duty outside the International Rugby Board's designated Test window.

George North: Played for Wales against Australia on November 30
George North: Played for Wales against Australia on November 30

A three-man Premiership Rugby panel made the decision on Wednesday, after the club admitted it had "breached board policy" over player release.

Northampton have already said they will not appeal against the fine.

The fine relates to Northampton allowed North to play for Wales against Australia on November 30 - a date outside the IRB window. Wales lost the game in Cardiff 30-26.

The 12 Aviva Premiership clubs have a solidarity policy over player release for internationals and the organisation is clearly unhappy that Northampton broke ranks.

As part of the agreement between Premiership clubs, only England players are allowed to be released by teams to play for their national side outside of the IRB's international window.

However, when North moved to Northampton from Scarlets in the summer his deal ensured that he would be made available for all Wales fixtures.

The punishment is more severe than had been expected and could be seen as a deterrent to clubs taking similar action in the future. Gloucester, for example, recently announced Wales hooker Richard Hibbard will join them next season.

When North was picked in the Wales side to face Australia, Northampton had acknowledged their agreement with the winger was ''outside Premiership Rugby Board policy'', but insisted it had ''not contravened any rules, laws or regulations''.

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