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Page last updated at 19:37 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Wasps escape punishment over abandoned Sale match

Sale rugby director Kingsley Jones (right)
Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones (right) was critical of Wasps' decision

Wasps will not face punishment for their refusal to play their Guinness Premiership match against Sale at Edgeley Park on 27 November.

The visitors claimed surface water down one channel of the pitch had made it dangerous, although both Sharks and the referee said the pitch was playable.

The London club were called to account at a Premier Rugby hearing on Monday.

But a charge of a breach of regulations was dismissed after the hearing decided it had not been proved.

The disciplinary panel intends to issue a short written decision setting out its reasons for dismissing the charges within 48 hours.

What happened at Sale cast the game in a bad light

RFU chief executive Francis Baron

Sale will study the panel's written judgement before deciding what action they might potentially take.

Chief executive officer James Jennings said: "This decision is incredibly disappointing and will come as a shock to all Sale Sharks supporters who were at Edgeley Park on the night when the game was cancelled.

"We will issue a further statement immediately following the publication of the panel's reasons for its decision."

In a statement Wasps said they were "delighted" at the panel's decision.

"The club are pleased that the matter has been resolved so that our full attention can be turned to our [European Challenge Cup] game against Bayonne at Adams Park on Saturday," it added.

"London Wasps continue to share in both Wasps and Sale supporters' disappointment that this game could not be played."

Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron had said before the hearing: "What happened at Sale cast the game in a bad light."

Stand Up And Be County'd

Referee David Rose was happy for the game to go ahead on the Friday of the match at 1945 GMT, 15 minutes after the scheduled kick-off time, but Wasps officials and players were back on their coach and had left the ground by 1930 GMT.

"The situation is that Wasps didn't want to play the game because they felt the pitch was unsafe," said Rose at the time.

"At that point my opinion doesn't count for anything - I cannot make any team take the field to play."

It was the third season running that Wasps have been involved in a late postponement - and Baron said last week: "It goes back to the image of the game and we want to portray the best image possible. I've got quite a mail bag on this.

"To call the match off 15 minutes before kick-off with a ground pretty full is not the sort of thing you want to get into."

Sale director of rugby Kingsley Jones said at the time: "I'm not happy about it and I'm really disappointed for the players."

But Wasps counterpart Tony Hanks insisted: "We don't believe, especially when it comes to scrummaging, that the surface was safe.

"Nobody informed us that the pitch was in such a bad state."

The FA Cup second-round tie between Stockport and Torquay, scheduled to take place at Edgeley Park the day after the postponed Guinness Premiership match, was called off on the Saturday morning because of a waterlogged pitch.

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see also
Stockport P-P Torquay
28 Nov 09 |  FA Cup
Worsley faces eight-week absence
26 Nov 09 |  English
Rugby union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Saracens 22-6 Wasps
22 Nov 09 |  English
Leeds 17-24 Sale
22 Nov 09 |  English

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