Saracens remain in Champions Cup after being fined 50,000 euros for 'ineligible' player

Titi Lamositele is tackled by Argentina players
Titi Lamositele played for the United States at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Defending champions Saracens will remain in this year's European Champions Cup after being fined for fielding an ineligible player.

Saracens, who have been relegated from the Premiership for salary cap breaches, had faced a points deduction.

They admitted Titi Lamositele's work permit expired the day before January's Champions Cup win against Racing 92.

But an independent disciplinary committee chose to impose a fine of 50,000 euros (£42,000).

Half of the fine - 25,000 euros - is suspended until the end of the 2020/21 season.

Saracens beat Racing 92 to reach the quarter-finals less than 24 hours after being relegated from the Premiership.

A European points deduction could have moved Saracens. who lost to Sale in the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final on Friday, out of the eighth quarter-final qualification spot.

However, the decision means they will play their quarter-final as scheduled against Leinster in Ireland on 4 April.

The committee heard that USA prop Lamositele was eligible for the fixture against Racing 92 when Saracens announced their match day squad on Friday, 17 January.

Lamositele's work permit expired the following day but the committee accepted that Saracens had not sought to gain any unfair advantage by selecting the player, who came on as a replacement in the 60th minute.

"The committee believes that this was an unfortunate sequence of events brought about by an administrative oversight," committee chairman Roger Morris said.

"However, Saracens are in breach of the disciplinary rules of the Champions Cup, and that breach constitutes misconduct which can be proportionately dealt with by way of a financial penalty."

French club Grenoble were deducted four points for fielding an ineligible player against London Welsh in the 2012-13 Challenge Cup.

Grenoble had won the fixture 20-9 but London Welsh were awarded a 28-0 victory after the hosts played Lotu Taukeiaho, who was not registered as a tournament squad member.

Saracens' victory also denied French side Racing 92 a home quarter-final and the club said they were "astonished at not being contacted after being involved in a new breach by Saracens".

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