The Highlanders have today announced that they have pulled off a double crucial signing, in the wake of the news that they will be without Brian Davidge this year. Highlanders chairman, Guy Robertson, told Polocrosse Extreme that he had arranged for Sarah Simkin and Ruth Jones (nee Simkin) to play for the Highlanders for this season instead of playing for Pennine. This double move strengthens the Highlanders teams a great deal and possibly means they can challenge the Crusaders again.
Normally, if a player transfers clubs in the middle of a season they are subject to a playing ban, this is in order to stop players swapping sides shortly before Nationals. However, in this instance, Highlanders will probably avoid any ban as Sarah and Ruth were still registered as Celyn players, not Pennine players. Highlanders will not transfer the players to their squad, instead they will do what Pennine were already doing, which is run a team combined with Celyn (i.e. Highlanders/Celyn) at the tournaments, lending Celyn one Highlanders’ player (possibly their brother, Tom ‘Big Red’ Simkin, who is already a Highlanders’ player) in order to make the Celyn section. This technically means that Sarah and Ruth have not transferred teams and therefore should not serve any ban.
This is bad news for Pennine, who have already lost some A grade players this season and had combined with Celyn in order to replace them. Pennine had stated earlier in the year that they thought it was better to combine with Celyn than get Sarah and Ruth to join them, as they didn’t approve of all the player transfers going on and breaking up clubs. It looks like now that decisions has come back to bite them; if the players had belonged to their club they could have blocked the transfer and at least made the players serve their ban, as it is they are powerless to stop the move. Pennine have yet to comment on the situation but it is believed their lawyers maybe looking into suing Highlanders for an illegal approach.