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Rugby Union: Nuneaton accused of 'dishonest sham' over Vunipola.

Nuneaton Rugby Club face the prospect of being stripped of the National League Three North title --and with it promotion to the second division --after they were accused in the High Court of fielding an illegal overseas player.

The club and the Rugby Football Union were taken to court by New Brighton RFC, who lost out on the division title to Nuneaton by just two points. But Nicholas Stewart QC, for Wirral club New Brighton, yesterday told Mr Justice Pumfrey that Nuneaton had recruited Tongan fly-half Elisi Vunipola without a valid work permit --and, he said, the RFU are refusing to do anything about it.

Mr Stewart said Nuneaton should have at least eight points deducted from their final total of 46 and the championship be handed to New Brighton.

Currently the RFU --the principle defendant in the case --say it would be too much of an administrative problem to deduct the points from Nuneaton, but Mr Stewart described any difficulties as 'nonexistent or exaggerated'.

He added that the RFU could not 'refuse or resist' the action as they were 'contractually obliged' to punish Nuneaton under the official rules and regulations.

'Each club is bound to observe the rules, entitled to have the rules observed by all other clubs and to have prescribed mandatory penalties imposed whenever there is a breach,' argued Mr Stewart.

'So far as disruption or difficulty are concerned, New Brighton obviously accept them willingly and Nuneaton are the club which has broken the rules.'

He added that Nuneaton's claims that they had treated Vunipola as an amateur player were a 'dishonest sham'.

But
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 22, 2003
Words:267
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