London Welsh supremo’s reaction as club is docked points and fined after RFU hearing
London Welsh CEO Tony Copsey fears the sport of rugby union has gone mad and that the RFU’s punishment of the Exiles “beggars belief”.
The Exiles were docked 10 points – five suspended until the end of next season – and fined £15,000 by the RFU last week, after they were found to be in breach of Aviva Premiership registration rules by fielding Tyson Keats.
In a separate hearing, former Exiles team manager Mike Scott was banned from the sport for life for falsifying documents to make it appear that New Zealander Keats was English.
The docked points have dropped the Exiles, who were promoted from the Championship last summer after another legal clash with the RFU, to the bottom of the Premiership table.
Copsey said: “The RFU ruling says that the club is responsible. But it is a simplistic view to say you’re responsible for your employees’ actions.
“One individual has gone out of his way to forge documents, lie and mislead everybody – I don’t think there is a club up and down the country that is safeguarding against their senior management team forging registration documents.”
An appeal into the RFU’s punishment of the club is due to be heard next week, with Copsey unsure of any possible outcome.
He said: “You should never bet on jump races and legal cases, but we feel our case is strong.
“But the sport has gone mad, and where the RFU has brought the club into question over one individual’s activities beggars belief.
“Everyone is losing all common sense in the matter. To punish a club in this way is so unfortunate.
“The one thing we do not want to be building is a reputation for legal actions with the RFU.
“We felt the situation was unfair last summer when the club won the Championship and were denied promotion, and we feel strongly about this.
Ineligible player: Tyson Keats should not have been playing for London Welsh Picture: Martin John
“The club had less than a month to prepare for the Premiership, we employed people like Mike Scott to help do the job that was needed.
“We registered several other players with absolutely no issues, so this was a one-off. He misled the club and the RFU, and the shame is that the club is left to pay the price.”
The Exiles brought the fraudulent registration to the attention of the RFU after a series of internal investigations, which would eventually end in Scott’s life ban.
But Copsey takes no satisfaction in his former colleague’s punishment, nor does he understand why Scott carried out the fraud in the first instance.
He said: “I don’t have any ill feelings towards Mike. It was just a crazy action, a one-off. He did not benefit personally, it is not as though he made half a million pounds out of it.
“The one thing Jeremy Summers [chairman of the RFU panel] did get right is that it is an extraordinary case.
“But the club should not have been punished. We have worked so hard. To have this individual’s action be the factor that puts this team at the bottom of the league is just so disappointing.”