Skipper praises spirit of team as Wisbech Rugby Club face 13-point penalty for ‘honest mistake’

INJURED Wisbech Rugby Club skipper Tom Long believes his determined team-mates will react bravely if the side are deducted 13 points for fielding an ineligible player.

The London & SE Division Competitions Committee could impose the heavy points fine and plunge Wisbech into a relegation battle after the club fielded a player registered for another side in their shock 20-8 win over Newmarket last month.

Former player Ben Hoyles, who had signed for Spalding at the start of this season, filled in for absent fly-half Will Pettit in the game, which saw Wisbech tear up the form book to beat the league leaders.

“These sort of things can go one of two ways,” said Long. “This has made all the players recognise that they really have something to play for. It has really galvanised the team.

“One player doesn’t make a team and if the correct person had been there the general feeling on the touchline is that we would have beaten them by more.

“The points deduction would leave us five points adrift at the bottom but what’s nice is the guys have realised they’ve got their backs up against the wall and they are determined to pull their socks up and get on with it.”

The club’s chairman Jeremy Pallant said the mistake was an honest one. “We have had a misdemeanour but it was in good faith,” he said. “To some extent we were the victim of circumstance with an inexperienced captain and missing coaching staff.

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“In hindsight we shouldn’t have done it but it certainly wasn’t a malicious mistake.”

In a letter of appeal sent to the committee, Pallant said: “In summary, we believe that this is the result of extremely poor administration on our part, for which we are not proud.

“We are appealing for leniency from the appropriate powers that be in an effort to at least reduce the severity of the penalty. Acknowledging the seriousness of the breach, we would plead for clemency.”