Saints fined £60k for releasing North to Welsh
Northampton have been fined £60,000 after releasing George North for Wales duty outside the International Rugby Board's designated Test window, Premiership Rugby has confirmed.
The Premiership club allowed North to feature in Wales' 30-26 defeat at the hands of Australia on November 30, which came after the end of the autumn international period. Premiership clubs have an agreement that only England players can be released for matches outside the IRB window, but North ensured he would be available for all Wales fixtures when he negotiated his summer move from the Scarlets to Franklin's Gardens.
Saints appeared before a three-man panel and were handed the fine after admitting to a breach of Premiership Rugby Board policy.
A Premiership Rugby statement read: "Northampton Saints admitted the breach with respect to the Board policy through the release of George North. The Designated Panel, comprising three Board members, decided that Northampton Saints will be fined £60,000. Northampton Saints have decided not to appeal against the sanction. There will be no further comment from Premiership Rugby or Northampton Saints."
Elsewhere, Richard Hibbard has been ruled out of the Christmas fixtures against the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues after chipping a bone in his wrist in the Heineken Cup win over Castres. And Andy Bishop is set to be sidelined for at least four months after undergoing surgery on a back problem which rules him out of the Six Nations.