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Saracens escape with fine after fielding ineligible player

LONDON (AP) — Saracens escaped with a fine of 50,000 euros ($54,700) for fielding an ineligible player in a crucial European Champions Cup pool stage match last month. Half of the fine was suspended until the end of the 2020-21 season, the disciplinary committee of tournament organizer European Professional Club Rugby ruled on Friday following a hearing.

The English club, already relegated from the English league for breaching salary-cap regulations, feared also being thrown out of the European quarterfinals. It fielded prop Titi Lamositele against Racing 92 on Jan. 19 despite the American international's work permit expiring the day before.

Saracens blamed an administrative error, and EPCR accepted that and deemed a fine was sufficient punishment. “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,” disciplinary committee chairman Roger Morris said in a statement.

“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.”

Saracens, defending the Champions Cup, sent on Lamositele in the second half against Racing 92. They needed the win, got it by 27-24, and headed off Glasgow for a quarterfinal berth. Although there is no precedent for an administrative error, French club Grenoble was deducted four points in 2012-13 for fielding an ineligible player against London Welsh in the European Challenge Cup. London Welsh was awarded a 28-0 victory, having lost to Grenoble 20-9.

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