South Canterbury have been fined $4500 and will lose two bonus points after admitting they breached player eligibility regulations.
A New Zealand Rugby Union panel has found South Canterbury breached the rules on three occasions.
The breach relates specifically to a Fijian player who was incorrectly categorised by South Canterbury as a local when he didn't arrive in New Zealand until after the date required (June 1) for him to qualify as a local player. This meant South Canterbury exceeded the maximum number of foreign or loan players in a matchday 22.
South Canterbury admitted the breaches but argued the offending was at the lower end of the spectrum.
The panel decided that, based on the degree of culpability, the benefit South Canterbury gained and the fact they didn't have an unblemished record of compliance in this area, they would be fined and lose competition points.
They lost points from the bonus points picked up for their 42-37 defeat of Thames Valley on September 8 and 52-37 defeat of North Otago a week later.
The punishment sees them slip from third to fifth place on the Heartland Championship table.
East Coast move up to third on the table with 21 points. Buller also have 21 points but are in fourth place by virtue of their defeat to East Coast in week three.