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Racing 92 say they will 'enforce their rights' as Saracens hearing gets underway

The Top 14 club expressed surprise not to have been contacted about the misconduct charge.

AS AN INDEPENDENT hearing regarding EPCR’s misconduct charge against Saracens for fielding a potentially ineligible player gets underway in London, French club Racing 92 have said they will “take every provision to enforce their rights.”

Earlier today, EPCR announced a misconduct charge against Saracens due to USA international prop Titi Lamositele possibly not being eligible when he featured in a Champions Cup pool game against Racing on 19 January.

saracens-v-racing-92-heineken-champions-cup-pool-four-allianz-park Saracens won 27-24 last month. Source: Adam Davy

Saracens won the game 27-24 to secure a quarter-final spot against Leinster in April, while also denying Racing the opportunity to earn a home tie in the knock-out stages.

Racing’s defeat meant they were drawn away to Clermont.

A strong statement from Racing this evening says the Top 14 club was ”surprised not to have been contacted” about the misconduct charge EPCR has brought against Saracens and that the “offense is likely to significantly change the classification” for the quarter-finals.

Racing go on to remind EPCR that in the Top 14, similar offences regarding ineligible players see the non-offending team involved in the game subsequently awarded 5 match points and a +25 points difference for the fixture.

Racing’s statement finishes by underling that the club will take “every provision to enforce their rights and the sporting fairness of the competition.”

The statement from the Parisian club arrived as Saracens prepared to attend the disciplinary hearing in London, which got underway at 6pm.

There is precedent for EPCR deducting points from clubs who have fielded ineligible players.

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Grenoble had four points docked in 2012 after fielding an ineligible player in a Challenge Cup pool game, although Lotu Taukeiaho was not even registered in their tournament squad in that case.

In 2000, London Irish had two points deducted after using an ineligible player in the European Shield. In that instance, it was ruled that Richard Bates had not had the necessary clearance from the South African Rugby Football Union after moving to London Irish from Natal.

As such, there is a real danger for Saracens of having points deducted, which would leave Glasgow to take their place in the quarter-final away to Leinster.

Were Racing to be retrospectively awarded points as well as Saracens having points deducted, however, it would greatly change the make-up of the quarter-finals, for which many tickets have already been sold. 

An additional four match points and +25 points difference would see Racing ranked as the second seeds after the pool stages, meaning they would hypothetically have a home quarter-final against Northampton.

In that case, Clermont would have to travel to Toulouse, while Ulster would visit Exeter – rather than Toulouse as per the current quarter-final schedule. Leinster would host Glasgow instead of Saracens.

Reorganising fixtures would be a logistical nightmare, of course, and it seems likely that EPCR will do everything in its power to avoid that situation.

This evening’s hearing in London is expected to last several hours.

Saracens have already been relegated from the English Premiership ahead of next season due to salary cap breaches in recent years.

- This article was updated at 8.25pm to correct ‘five additional points’ to ‘four additional points’.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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