Controversy in AIL as relegation-threatened Shannon hit with one-point deduction over breach of player-payment rule
Shannon RFC have been hit with a one-point deduction for breaching a rule around paying players, which has plunged their top flight status in the All-Ireland League into further doubt.
The Limerick club have also been fined €3000 – a further punishment that Shannon are said to be "totally disappointed and disillusioned" with.
Shannon were found guilty of breaching Regulation 6, which states:
"No Material Benefit shall be offered or paid by a Club to any Player. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes the payment of Signing on Money or Retention Money.
"The Club Affairs Committee may in its absolute discretion review and investigate any issues or concerns it may have in this regard."
Sources close to the club have claimed that the issue arose after they signed an overseas player from New Zealand, who never ended up playing a single minute for them in the AIL Division 1A.
Instead, the player who is understood to have been drafted in as half-back cover, played four games for Shannon's seconds team as well as one Senior Cup game.
Independent.ie understands that flights to Ireland were organised and paid for as well as initial rent for accommodation, under agreement that the player would reimburse the club as soon as he settled.
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However, he then returned home for family reasons with the promise that he would return and play for the club, until he had a change of heart and decided to remain in New Zealand without having paid back the money owed.
A request was then made to Shannon to allow him transfer to a club in New Zealand and when they inquired about the money owed, the player went to the IRFU with the issue.
Shannon appealed the initial ban that was handed down to them, but after a hearing with the union, which took place on Tuesday night, the punishment was lessened and a €3000 fine was handed down to them as well as a one-point deduction.
That now leaves Shannon level on 27 points with Terenure at the foot of the AIL Division 1A table with two regular season games left to play.
An official club statement read:
"At a recent meeting in Dublin with IRFU Club Affairs committee, Shannon RFC were deemed guilty of breaking Regulation 6.
"Shannon appealed this decision based on the severity of the sanction imposed. The player in question did not play for Shannon RFC in the AIL and did not receive payment in return for playing rugby for our club.
"On appeal, the decision was made to issue Shannon with a fine and to deduct one AIL point with immediate effect.
"Given the facts presented to the IRFU, Shannon RFC are totally disappointed, disillusioned and strongly disagree with the decision.
"Club Rugby being our priority - we are aware that we have two very important matches ahead.
"We are now putting our focus towards finishing the league on a high and maintaining our status in Division 1A.
"We will not be commenting further on this issue and would like to ask all of our supporters to rally together and get behind the players and coaches."
Shannon are ahead of fellow strugglers Terenure on points difference and their remaining two crucial games are against Young Munster (April 5) and Cork Con (April 13).