Newcastle hit with European ban for unfufilled fixture

Newcastle have received a one-year ban from European competition, suspended for five years, and been fined £22,000 by the European Rugby Competition.

The punishment relates to the club's failure to fulfil their European Challenge Cup pool match with Bourgoin.

The fixture on 22 January was postponed because of an unplayable pitch and rescheduled for 23 January.

However, neither the referee nor Falcons were present for the pitch inspection at 1200 CET.

"The outcome was very disappointing," chairman Dave Thompson told BBC Newcastle.

"On advice we pleaded guilty to the charge with exceptional and mitigating circumstances, the hearing I thought went very well.

"However when they came to deliver the verdict, we were absolutely astounded, not so much about the 28-0 scoreline, or the explusion from the competition, or the one-year suspension witheld, it was mainly the fine that was imposed.

"On advice we are waiting for the written output from the hearing, to look at that before we decide whether we appeal against the fine and the output."

No replayed fixture was ever completed, and with neither side able to qualify from the group, the fixture had no impact on the qualification from Pool Three, in which Montpellier and Exeter progressed.

The match, and five match points, were awarded to Bourgoin on a scoreline of 28-0.

Meanwhile the French side were fined £66,185 for failing to ensure the initial fixture was fulfilled, and for failing to prepare an alternative venue.