Ospreys face fine for fielding 16th man

THE Ospreys look likely to be hit with a fine for briefly fielding 16 players in their Heineken Cup victory over Leicester.

Tournament organisers European Rugby Cup will investigate events at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea after Tigers chief executive Peter Wheeler and chairman Peter Tom lodged a complaint.

Leicester went out of the competition as a result of their 17-12 defeat, with the Ospreys and Clermont Auvergne securing quarter-final places from Pool 3.

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Competition rules suggest the match result must stand, yet the Ospreys still face an anxious wait to discover what punishment – if any – ERC decides to impose.

England were fined 10,000 during the 2003 World Cup when wing Dan Luger featured as a 16th player for 34 seconds of their group-stage win against Samoa in Melbourne. Unlike in Luger's case, it is claimed on this occasion that Ospreys' full-back Lee Byrne was involved in helping to thwart an opposition attack.

Byrne had gone off suffering from a dislocated and bloodied toe, being replaced by centre Sonny Parker, but Byrne was sent back on three minutes later without any of his team-mates going off. Fly-half Dan Biggar then departed after about a minute.

Wheeler said: "We have lodged a complaint because at a significant point of the game the Ospreys had 16 men on the pitch, and that 16th man interfered with, or was involved in, a break by (Tigers scrum-half) Ben Youngs and played a significant role in nothing developing from that."