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Leinster Saracens tie to go ahead as European Champions avoid expulsion for playing ineligible player


Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell (L) is tackled by Saracens' Titi Lamositele. Photo: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell (L) is tackled by Saracens' Titi Lamositele. Photo: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell (L) is tackled by Saracens' Titi Lamositele. Photo: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

Leinster's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens will proceed as planned after the champions escaped with a fine for fielding an ineligible player against Racing 92 last month. 

The crisis-hit English club were last night fined €50,000, €25,000 of which is suspended until next year, for their breach of tournament rules.

However, a three-person disciplinary committee stopped short of issuing a points deduction or handing the result to Racing - either or which would have altered the course of the tournament.

Saracens played USA prop Titi Lamositele for 20 minutes off the bench in their pivotal win over the French side, despite his work permit having expired the day before the match. He was registered for the tournament.

They reported their mistake to EPCR, who tonight convened a hearing chaired by Welshman Roger Morris.

"The Committee considered submissions from the EPCR Disciplinary Officer, Liam McTiernan, from the Saracens Chairman, Neil Golding, and from the club's legal representative, Paul Harris QC," a statement from EPCR read.

"The Committee heard that Lamositele was eligible for the Heineken Champions Cup,Round 6 fixture against Racing 92 when Saracens announced their match day squad on Friday, January 17.

"It was also explained that between the time of the match day squad announcement and the match itself on Sunday, January 19, Lamositele's work permit expired and that Saracens were not aware of this due to an administrative oversight.

"The Committee accepted that Lamositele's work permit had expired unbeknownst to the club, and that Saracens had not sought to gain any unfair advantage by selecting the player.

"The Committee then decided to uphold the misconduct complaint as Saracens had breached EPCR's Disciplinary Rules, and a fine of €50,000 was imposed on the club."

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It remains to be seen if Racing 92 lodge a complaint with EPCR, while Glasgow Warriors - who are next in line for a place in the last eight - may also get involved to pressure EPCR to appeal the decision.

Saracens can also appeal.

Racing earlier issued a statement demanding they receive the five match points and a +25 points differential from the match.

They expressed their disappointment at not having an involvement in the hearing and pledged to pursue the matter further.

If Saracens were docked points as happened to Agen and London Irish for similar issues in 2000, Glasgow would replace them in the quarter-final.

However, the ramifications for Racing getting the result would have been far-reaching, causing changes to the entire quarter-final line-up despite tickets already going on sale.

Chair of the independent Disciplinary Committee, Roger Morris, said: "Following careful consideration of a complaint involving a player who has been contracted to Saracens since 2014, and who remains contracted to the club, the Committee believes that this was an unfortunate sequence of events brought about by an administrative oversight.

"However, Saracens are in breach of the Disciplinary Rules of the Heineken Champions Cup, and that breach constitutes misconduct which can be proportionately dealt with by way of a financial penalty."

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