HAWICK have been fined £525 and docked five championship points after failing to fulfil their fixture against Glasgow Hawks last Saturday.
And, in what is believed to have been the first time in their proud history that the Greens have ever been unable to field a full team for a league game, the Mansfield Park outfit have been ordered by the SRU to play the match on Tuesday night.
Club secretary John Thorburn told the Hawick News this week they were “embarrassed” by the decision last Thursday night to pull out of their final league fixture of the season.
Hawick cited a lack of front row cover with numerous players either injured or unavailable – under SRU rules there must be three players for the front row and two replacements in the squad.
Hawks coach Peter Wright had offered to loan them one of their own players on the Friday, although by that time the game had already been cancelled by the Greens committee.
However, reports that similar help was offered by West of Scotland and Stirling County have been strenuously denied by Hawick.
Following a Championship Committee meeting on Wednesday night, Premier One representative Gordon Cairns, said: “It’s crucial to the integrity of Scotland’s top domestic division that matches are fulfilled as scheduled.
“Hawick have failed to justify ‘just cause’ for the non-fulfillment of their Premier 1 fixture against Glasgow Hawks on Saturday (2 April) and so, in accordance with Regulation 6, have been penalised five championship points and fined £525 which will be subtracted from the financial contributions made to the club from Scottish Rugby next season, and paid to Glasgow Hawks to cover the expenses they incurred.”
But a suggestion that the club could be relegated if they failed to fulfil Tuesday’s fixture are wide of the mark.
Mr Thorburn said the desperate situation prompted them to contact junior clubs as well as Selkirk, Gala and Melrose, in a bid to find players.
“We’ve had our punishment and we’re now focused on getting the game played on Tuesday night,” he said.
“We are all hugely embarrassed by what happened last week and we don’t want that to happen again.”
Regular starters Bruce McNeil, Matthew Landels and Rory Sutherland were all injured, while Alistair Marsh and Dale Johnstone were unavailable.
Coach Derek Armstrong defended the decision and insisted there was nothing sinister behind the cancellation, citing health and safety as their principal concern.
He said: “We would rather have got the fixture out the way than be playing it during the Sevens tournaments.
“There’s nothing to read into it. We had injuries to our front row. If you just shove anybody in there and they break their neck or their back, then it’s the coaches who get sued, nobody else.
“If you haven’t got a front row then you haven’t got a front row, it’s as simple as that. At the end of the day it was all about the safety of the players.”
Meanwhile, Mr Thorburn conceded that talks had to take place with the junior clubs as they try to seek a solution to the issues.
He added: “We had a management meeting on Monday night and it was agreed that we should meet with the YM, Quins and Linden to discuss the problems and that has been scheduled for after the sevens.”
It is understood the club won’t be appealing the sanctions.