When Taulupe Faletau was released for Wales duty for the game against South Africa at the beginning of December, many wondered if Bath would be the subject of punishment for releasing the player for international duty.
The reason why this was an issue was because that fixture fell outside of the allocated international Test window which culminated a week beforehand. Wales played South Africa at the Principality Stadium in an ‘extra’ fixture. No other northern hemisphere nation played a fixture on that weekend, they had finished their respective series at the end of November.
Premiership Rugby also has a rule in place where they don’t allow non-English players to represent their countries outside of these allocated Test windows – hence the controversy.
Well, Premiership Rugby have investigated the incident and they have found Bath guilty of breaching their policies. The club have been fined £60,000, which was lowered from £90,000 due to the club’s level of co-operation and their admission of guilt.
Here is the full statement from Premiership Rugby:
Bath Rugby have today been fined £60,000 after admitting breaching Premiership Rugby Board policies.
The sanction was imposed under an independent process managed by Sport Resolutions.
It relates to the Premiership Rugby Board policy around international duty and specifically Taulupe Faletau being released for a fourth international outside the periods specified in World Rugby Regulation 9.
The Policy is only to release non-England players for Tests matches in accordance with the requirements of World Rugby Regulation 9.
Bath Rugby’s full co-operation with the process was acknowledged and, in mitigation, it was decided to reduce the initial £90,000 sanction to £60,000, a figure that covers the2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
Bath Rugby are the second club to be fined for breaching this Board policy following Northampton Saints in 2013.
A Premiership Rugby spokesman said: “This Board policy has been an essential one, especially as there has been an increasing number of international matches being organised outside the specified international weeks. The agreed policy is well known to clubs, players and unions.”
The last case of this happening was when the Northampton Saints were fined £60,000 for allowing George North to play for Wales against the Wallabies on the same weekend in which a full round of Premiership fixtures was held.