Otley are waiting to hear if they have had five league points deducted for fielding an ineligible player.

The SSE National League Two North club played Alexander Beaumont at home to Harrogate on Saturday, December 21, without realising that he was still registered with Durham & Northumberland Division Two side Whitby.

However, the Cross Greeners, who say that the error was made in all innocence, feel that the RFU have some culpability in the proceedings.

Otley secretary Marc Lawrence explained: “We wanted to register a player called Alexander Beaumont on Thursday, December 19, just before our game against Harrogate.

“The RFU registration page made no indication of the player’s current club and, after interrogation by James Tiffany (director of rugby) and myself, we were given an unambigious response and believed that he was not registered elsewhere.

“Unfortunately, for personal reasons, I was unavailable until after midday on the Friday - the deadline for registration for that weekend - to check with the RFU that he was effectively registered for Otley but made attempts to contact them for clarification.

“Usually the RFU make contact to confirm registration or whether there are any irregularities and, having not heard from them, you assume that everythuing is okay.”

However, Otley and Lawrence were in for a shock two days after the match.

He said: “The RFU notified me on the Monday morning (December 23) that they had not picked up our fax from the previous Thursday until that morning.

“The RFU also notified me that the player we had selected was not effectively registered and, as such reported the matter to the NCA (National Clubs Association), who confirmed that, in view of the breach of regulations, five championship points will be deducted pending appeal.

“The notification concerning the possibility of a five-point penalty from the NCA was delivered on Christmas Eve, and it gave us 14 days in which to make a response.”

Lawrence added: “We made contact with the NCA in the new year to inform them this was an unrealistic timescale due to the seasonal bank holidays, and Ivor Horscroft, secretary of the NCA, confirmed via e-mail that he would extend the appeal deadline to Tuesday, January 14.

“However, Ivor was quick off the blocks because when our chairman, Donald Holdsworth, wanted to get involved and spoke to him, he was told he was out of time to make an appeal, so I referred him back to Ivor’s e-mail stating that the appeals deadline had been extended.

“We made the appeal on Monday, January 13, which has since been acknowledged, and we understand that papers have been referred to Brian Vincent, who, I understand, is part of the NCA appeals panel.”