London Welsh have been deducted five points by the RFU for fielding ineligible player Tyson Keats in the Aviva Premiership.
The RFU Premiership Regulation Panel of Inquiry also deducted a further five points - suspended until the end of the 2013/14 season - and fined the Exiles £15,000.
The case involving 31-year-old Keats was visa-related with the scrum half New Zealander having previously played for Aironi in Italy.
The panel, consisting Jeremy Saunders (chairman), Mark McCafferty and Peter Budge, said: "Keats applied for an ancestry visa when he arrived in the UK in July 2012 as his maternal grandfather was born in England.
"But his application was apparently rejected and then team manager Mike Scott falsified a player registration form by stating Keats was English and had been born in Christchurch."
Read the full Panel of Inquiry Decision here: http://tinyurl.com/bvaddj6
The points deduction drops the Exiles to the bottom of the Aviva Premiership table – they now trail second-from-bottom Sale Sharks by two points with five games left to play.
A London Welsh club statement read: “London Welsh can confirm that it will be lodging an appeal against the ruling.
“The club was unknowingly the victim of one individual’s fraudulent conduct and it was London Welsh which discovered the fraud and brought it to the attention of the RFU.
“The panel however has punished London Welsh on the basis that it is to blame for what that individual has done.”
London Welsh CEO Tony Copsey said: “London Welsh are hugely disappointed and shocked by the ruling made by the RFU hearings committee, which we believe is extremely harsh under the circumstances.
“It is our belief the ruling is fundamentally flawed and I can confirm that the club will definitely be appealing the decision.”
The club's former rugby manager Mike Scott remains the subject of a separate RFU disciplinary hearing relating to the registration of the same player and has been charged under RFU Rule 5.12 for 'conduct prejudicial to the interests of the union or the game'.