Newcastle Falcons punished by ERC for misconduct charge
Newcastle hit with fine and suspended ban from Europe for failing to play Amlin Challenge Cup match
Newcastle Falcons have been handed a £22,000 fine and a one-year suspended ban from all European competitions after pleading guilty to a charge of misconduct at a European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing.
The punishment relates to the Falcons’ Amlin Challenge Cup Pool Three clash against Bourgoin, which was scheduled to be held on 22 January.
Despite the match being rescheduled for the following day due to an unplayable pitch at the Stade Pierre Rajon, the English side returned to the UK before the pitch inspection on 23 January.
Neither side could have reached the quarter-finals in what was largely seen as a dead rubber game after Montpellier and Exeter secured the top two spots of the group.
The match was eventually awarded to the French side as a 28-0 home victory giving them an added bonus point.
“The outcome was very disappointing,” chairman Dave Thompson told BBC Newcastle.
“However when they came to deliver the verdict, we were absolutely astounded, not so much about the 28-0 scoreline, or the expulsion from the competition, or the one-year suspension withheld, it was mainly the fine that was imposed.”
Bourgoin, meanwhile, did not escape lightly as they too pleaded guilty for failing to fulfill the fixture or provide an alternative venue.
The ERC issued the struggling Top 14 side with a similar one-year suspended ban and a €75,000 fine.
One incensed fan wrote on a Falcons forum: “What the hell does that achieve apart from €100,000 in the coffers of the ERC and even less money in the hands of two of the least wealthy clubs eligible for the competition?
“Are the ERC trying to bankrupt the clubs they are supposed to be encouraging?”