PA Sport - Wed, 24 Feb 16:15:00 2010
The Ospreys say they are "co-operating fully" with tournament chiefs amid reports of them facing a second investigation relating to this season's Heineken Cup campaign.
European Rugby Cup bosses are probing the eligibility of Ospreys' South African scrum-half Ricky Januarie (pictured). According to a newspaper report on Wednesday, Premier Rugby - the organisation that represents England's 12 Guinness Premiership clubs - queried Januarie's eligibility with ERC.
"We were contacted by ERC last month as, we believe, were a number of other clubs, to clarify certain issues around the registration of players in this season's European competitions, in our case regarding Ricky Januarie," an Ospreys spokesperson told Press Association Sport.
"We are co-operating fully with ERC, providing them with all the relevant paperwork relating to Ricky's transfer and registration, and believe that all our actions comply implicitly with tournament regulations.
"We would reiterate that this is not solely an Ospreys issue. It is our understanding that ERC have also made contact with a number of other clubs regarding the issue of registration."
Januarie joined the Ospreys on loan from Cape Town-based Super 14 outfit the Stormers at the end of November, and is now back playing for them in South Africa.
Teams can add one player to their Heineken Cup squad during the tournament's pool stages, but competition rules state "he must have at least a three-month contract with the club."
The Stormers said Januarie's move was a two-month deal when they announced his departure to Wales. He played in Ospreys' final four group games against Viadana (twice), Clermont Auvergne and Leicester.
ERC is now reportedly examining terms of Januarie's loan deal, and Ospreys could face a disciplinary hearing if they are deemed to have broken any rules, which could result in a fine, points deduction or even expulsion from the competition.
The Welsh regional side were fined and their Wales full-back Lee Byrne had a two-week ban quashed on appeal after he briefly appeared as a 16th player during their pool stage victory over Leicester last month. Ospreys' win meant they secured a quarter-final place, booking a tie against Biarritz in San Sebastian on April 10.