TECH Waratahs are resigned to being without experienced halfback Josh Darby for next Saturday's grand final.
Darby picked up his third yellow card of the season in last week's major semifinal win over Avondale and was hit with a mandatory one-game suspension.
The former Illawarra and NSW Country rep claimed he was innocent of the charge of rucking an opponent's head and Tech Waratahs officials were confident video evidence supported his case.
But after reviewing footage on Wednesday night, the IRU rejected the Tahs' bid to overturn Darby's ban.
Tech Waratahs coach Sean Filan said the club was checking possible avenues for an appeal.
However, the chances of Darby playing the premiership decider are slim.
"Josh Darby's a valuable member of our club, and due to the fact that we still feel it's a harsh penalty to miss out on a grand final, and we believe he's innocent of the charge that got him sinbinned. We'll continue to fight for Josh," Filan said.
"We had some evidence and they deemed it not quite clear enough. There's no hard feelings, but we're just going to try and push forward and come up with some other evidence. If it's not good enough, we're prepared to wear that."
A similar situation occurred last year when Avondale player Kyle Moody missed the grand final after he accumulated three yellow cards.
However the Tahs insist Darby was not in the wrong on Saturday and should never have been sinbinned.
The IRU sympathised for Darby but felt it would set a worrying precedent if it rescinded the yellow card.
"The Illawarra Rugby Union judiciary committee considered that, in effect, Tech Waratahs' submission required the committee to nullify the competition rule that three yellow cards during a season incurs a one-match suspension," IRU acting president Bert Roodenrys said.
"The committee considered that, under the competition rules and the judiciary procedures of the Illawarra Rugby Union, it did not have the authority to do this.
"The committee expressed its remorse for Josh's exclusion from the grand final but found that the competition rules provide no basis to alter or overrule the referee's decision to issue a yellow card."
Filan believes the IRU should consider softening the by-laws regarding yellow cards.
"Maybe we can look at the rules for next year and they might see some light and alter the rules, because I wouldn't like to see this happen to any other club over a yellow card," he said.
"There's no reason why they can't turn over a yellow card, but I understand them backing the referees."
The Tahs have a couple of options for the final and will almost certainly move Wayne Bruton to halfback. Filan says he is an "awesome replacement".