WISBECH Town Rugby Club have pleaded for clemency after fielding an ineligible player in their recent 20-8 win against Newmarket.
The local club face a 13-point deficit from the London & SE Division Competitions Committee and that could see them relegated at the end of the season following a poor start.
The win against Newmarket came as something of a surprise as the visitors had not lost in their previous 68 matches and they made a complaint that Wisbech had played ineligible players.
Wisbech’s chairman Jeremy Pallant confirmed that former player Ben Hoyles, who moved to Spalding this season, did in fact play under the name of Will Pettit in the game.
Pallant said: “It was a comedy of errors on our part. Ben Hoyles has played for the club for several season but registered with Spalding this season.
“He stepped in when one of our players was not available but the team sheet, which had been made out earlier, was not changed. I am not pleased with what has happened but the mistake was made in good faith and some Newmarket players knew about it before the game.”
In their defence the Wisbech club have written to the London & SE Division stating: “At no time did WRUFC undertake a premeditated course of action to field a particular player to bring about a favourable result.
“The club did not act with malicious intent and considered at the time that by playing a player who played for the club for the five previous seasons would have been acceptable although not perhaps legal.
“Fielding an unregistered player or falsifying a team sheet is not a practice WRUFC undertakes. Internal action has been taken to ensure there is no re-occurrence and to reprimand those responsible.
“In acknowledging the seriousness of the breach we would plead for clemency. By activating the penalty, it’s likely the consequence would be relegation of a club that is popular with the league it plays in and has won the Referees’ Whistlers Trophy on several occasions.
“The club has a thriving youth section that would be severely affected by any action that would result in relegation.”