CHAMPS: Thirroul skipper Joel Johnson and his Butchers have claimed the club championship after Wests were stripped of the crown. Picture: Anna Warr
Story from: Illawarra Mercury
By: Mitch JenningsAugust 13 2019
The Devils initially claimed the coveted club championship from the Butchers by a single point last weekend having headed into the final round of matches with a single-point buffer.
Results fell in the Devils favour, but subsequent reviews found Wests had inadvertently fielded an unregistered player in nine games, something that was only discovered at the completion of the regular season.
IRL general manager Chris Bannerman said there was absolutely no suggestion the error was intentional but said CRL by-laws stipulate that in such circumstances points are awarded to the opposing team.
“There’s no suggestion at all of any deliberate attempt to deceive anyone, it’s just an administrative error that no one picked up on that unfortunately occurred on nine occasions during the season,” Bannerman said.
“No one at Wests has tried to do anything untoward, it’s just an unlikely set of circumstances that we’ve had to look at and it’s seen them play the ultimate price for a small error that stretched over a number of games.
“It’s unfortunate for them, [coach] Jimmy Grehan’s a great bloke and done a great job with them, they’d have been hard to stop for the premiership but under our by-laws and the CRL rules it’s the club’s responsibility to ensure all players are registered.
“If anyone who is unregistered takes the field under the CRL rules, and ours, any points that team earns are awarded to the opposing team.
“We’ve have had to go back over the nine games in which the player played and take the points off Wests and award them to the other teams.
“Unfortunately that leaves Wests out of the [reserve grade] top four.”
It sees Collegians elevated to top spot on the reserve grade ladder, setting up a major semi-final clash with the Butchers on Sunday week, while Berkeley move from fifth to the fourth and will take on Port Kembla in the minor semi-final this Sunday.
Wests isn’t facing any further sanctions and the matter will not impact on any of the Devils other grades involved in the finals.