HARSH PENALTY: South Grafton Rebels have been docked two competition points.
HARSH PENALTY: South Grafton Rebels have been docked two competition points. Sam Flanagan

REBELS APOLOGISE: How bungle cost two points

RUGBY LEAGUE: South Grafton Rebels are apologising to fans after a "clerical error" led to Group 2 stripping them of two competition points for playing an unregistered player in the opening game against Woolgoolga.

Rebels president Brendan Breitnauer refused to identify the player who took the field unregistered, but confirmed it was a player of long standing in the club.

"We're embarrassed about it," Breitnauer said. "He's played with the club for about the past 10 years.

"All we can do is say sorry to the fans and move forward."

Breitnauer likened the error to failing to renew car registration.

"It's just like registering your car," he said.

"You have rego and every year it comes up for renewal.

"Unfortunately, there's been a glitch in the system and we've paid the price for it."

But he would not be drawn on who was responsible for the error which has proved so costly.

"It's a small issue and we don't want to dwell on it," he said.

"It's done, there's 12 more competition rounds and we have to move forward."

Breitnauer described the penalty as harsh, but believed there were no avenues to appeal it.

"As far as we know, there's no way to appeal this, although we have asked Group 2 about it," he said.

"We're waiting for a reply."

Group 2 chief administration officer Jim Anderson said the word on the Rebels' unregistered player came back to the group from Country Rugby League.

"All player team sheets are submitted to the CRL and they check them for discrepancies," he said.

"The Rebels team sheet came back from the CRL with a red flag on it."

Anderson said while it was possible to appeal the decision, the rules were cut and dried.

"If you're an unregistered player, you can't take the field," he said.

"The main issue is around insurance.

"If you're not registered you're not covered and that's a serious issue."

But he believed the Rebels had been punished harshly for their mistake.

"I genuinely believe it was just a player oversight at the start of the season," he said.

"Clubs are run by volunteers, players have jobs they have to do.

"They're turning up in the dark for training and such.

"It's easy to see how something like this might get overlooked."

Anderson said while the CRL was responsible for the loss of the competition points, it was possible for the group to impose a monetary penalty on the Rebels.

"It will come up at our next meeting at the end of the month," he said.