London Welsh have been hit with a five-point deduction and £15,000 fine for fielding an ineligible player in the Aviva Premiership this season.
It follows a case heard by a Rugby Football Premiership regulations panel on Tuesday, with the verdict announced by the RFU last night.
Welsh, who now go bottom of the Premiership two points behind Sale Sharks and seven behind London Irish with five games remaining, had a further five-point deduction suspended until the end of next season.
The player in question is scrum-half Tyson Keats, who appeared in ten Premiership games this term while not holding effective registration with the RFU. The case surrounding New Zealander Keats was visa-related.
Welsh confirmed they will lodge an appeal against the ruling, saying that they are “hugely disappointed and shocked” with the decision.