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Page last updated at 22:00 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

ERC clears Ospreys in Ricky Januarie registration row

Scrum-half Ricky Januarie
Januarie has returned to South Africa to play for the Stormers

Quarter-finalists the Ospreys have been cleared of fielding an ineligible player in this season's Heineken Cup.

The European Rugby Cup told the Welsh region they had "no case to answer" after an investigation into scrum-half Ricky Januarie's registration.

Heineken Cup regulations state a player "must have at least a three-month contract with the club" to be eligible to play in the European tournament.

But the South African star returned home after just over two months.

Januarie joined the Ospreys on loan from Cape Town-based Super 14 outfit the Stormers at the end of November and he played in four of the Ospreys' group games.

The Ospreys, who face Biarritz in a Euro quarter-final against on 10 April, faced possible expulsion if found guilty of a breach of player eligibility rules.

The ERC, the Heineken Cup's organisers, conducted a full investigation following a reported complaint from Premier Rugby, the Guinness Premiership clubs' umbrella body.


But after holding a specially-convened board meeting in Dublin on Monday, the ERC informed the Ospreys that they had been cleared.

Ospreys managing director Roger Blyth said in a statement: "Now that we can finally put this matter behind us, we are, along with our many supporters, looking forward to our quarter-final against Biarritz in San Sebastian on Saturday, 10 April.

"Having co-operated fully with ERC at all times during their investigation into this matter, and providing them with all the relevant paperwork relating to Ricky's contract and registration, we are delighted to have been informed that they have found that Ospreys Rugby has no case to answer."

The Ospreys had already faced one investigation over their Heineken Cup conduct this season as the Liberty Stadium region were fined 25,000 Euros after their 16-man fiasco in the Heineken Cup win over Leicester Tigers.

The Tigers complained over Lee Byrne's 50-second appearance as the Ospreys' extra man in their 17-12 Pool Three win.

The Ospreys' win sent them into the last eight and knocked Leicester out in the process.

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