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Re: Mark McCall
Posted by: lfw
Date: 20/01/2020 19:56
Perhaps you will enjoy this then:

"Following the remarkable announcement by Premiership Rugby that Saracens will be relegated from England’s top-flight, James While delves into the scandal.

Denial is a dreadful trait.

Commonplace amongst addicts, cheats and narcissists, it’s all consuming, leaving its victims unaware of how their actions and dishonesty affects those around them.

Let’s wind the clock back to November 5th 2019: faced with a 35-point deduction and a £5m fine, Saracens needed to execute two clearly defined actions to bring themselves back into rugby compliance and to prevent relegation. 1) get their current staff under the cap for this season and 2) win enough games to make sure they didn’t finish bottom.

It says everything about the systemic and cultural dishonesty of the club that they completely (and deliberately) ignored the first point and threw every dubious and illegal asset they had into the second scenario.


On the denial scale, this was akin to an alcoholic attending rehab then downing a bottle of 18-year-old single malt an hour later. The only people they lied to were themselves, their loved ones (the fans) and those around them. That is absolutely unforgivable.

Their defence seems to be equally without integrity; “We’re not the only ones,” they bellow. “Everyone else is doing it”, they scream.

Seriously? That’s as likely to garner judicial sympathy as telling the cop that just pulled you over that ‘everyone drinks and drives occasionally’.

Yes, there are rumblings that Saracens are not the only club whose books are littered with Krugerrands of dodgy origin, and it’s pretty obvious that the marginal gain culture that permeates on-field activity is now extending to boardroom strategy.

How deep this goes nobody knows, but the interim return of former CEO Ed Griffiths shows that the sinister mess he created is now so deep that only he can paper over his own cracks of deception.

Don’t forget, this is the administrator who, some nine years ago, handed a cardboard box to many Saracens stalwarts in a clearout. Including in that was pillar of rugby integrity Richard Hill, who exited the club. One wonders if he feared Hill’s influence on the club because it’s pretty certain that the English great would not have tolerated this cheating malarkey on his watch.


Over the weekend, Saracens were finally issued an ultimatum by Premiership Rugby (PRL): “Show us everything or you’ll be relegated.” It says everything about the depth of the deceit that Sarries refused to show their hand and took relegation, and it says everything about Griffiths and his management strategies that they took the latter route.



Which brings us to PRL. When allegations that there are other cases of salary cap breaches to answer, put simply it’s not in PRL’s interests to lay bare weaknesses in the game they themselves take to market.

You see, they own this product. Like Volkswagen and the diesel emissions scandal, they want this to go away with speed and they want to minimise the impact of brand disrepute. By acting in the manner they have, they will believe it’s the quickest route to making this all go away, but sadly, they appear to have reckoned without the value set of the sport it purports to promote.

Why are they able to do this? It’s because PRL appear to answer to nobody.

There’s absolutely no body or organisation that can referee their actions or bring into question their structure. In cricket, MCC perform an admirable role as the guardians of the ‘Spirit of Cricket’. They act as the fair and reasonable arbiters of honest play and sportsmanship. Despite their images as stuffy old men, they do an amazing job. Our sport needs its own MCC, a group of rugby folk steeped in the culture of our sport and who are able to set aside any personal agenda for the good name of their own community.

To many of the ‘Fez Heads’ and loyal Saracens, the punishments meted out already seem draconian. However, it’s the reoffending since November that is the bitterest pill to swallow. Saracens’ ignorance and arrogance in flicking two fingers at everyone in the game once they were caught is simply astonishing. It could be held that the punishments are nowhere near enough, as the people concerned seem intent on reoffending the moment they’re caught.

It is time to say enough is enough. It’s not outside the bounds of possibility that this incident may go to a parliamentary review, where transparency can be demanded. This may be the very best thing that could happen right now.


With regards to Saracens, both their non-executive directors, acting directors and senior coaching staff knew everything and, on that basis, need to face personal sanctions and be removed from any involvement in the game completely, sine die. If that means the club ceases trading, so be it. Like Lance Armstrong, they can always watch the games on TV. For the investors, tough – it’s your desire for vicarious satisfaction that’s driven the issue.



Elsewhere, extreme pressure should be applied by World Rugby to the PRO14 and other contiguous leagues to refuse Sarries any form of ‘creative’ lifeline. There can be no compromise here; the North London club are cancerous and their tumour of deceit needs removing from the game completely.

With regards to PRL, they need to take a good long look at themselves and man up. Honesty, empathy and vision is now needed to reassure disenfranchised fans who have spent the last few years watching a tissue of lies. There needs to be action too from the RFU and there needs to be implementation of some form of guardianship of the spirit of the game.

Yes, there will be some angry Saracens fans reading this piece and disagreeing. Some players too may share a very different view to the one articulated above, but here’s the thing; many watch rugby because of its essences of respect, honesty and honour.

Saracens have insulted the very core of these values, not once but twice. That is unforgivable and removes every single quality of rugby that makes the sport unique."

Planet Rugby

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