“Put them to work over here. Get like, yeah the English come over here and do a bit of building for us!”
Saracens are facing up to the reality of being in the English Championship, next season, and losing a host of their big stars.
The three-time European champions, who also collected five Premiership titles in the past decade, were left reeling over the weekend when Premiership officials handed down the sanction.
While many of the details of the club’s salary cap breaches have yet to be released, Exeter chairman Tony Rowe told the BBC the club refused to allow a forensic audit on their books and, instead, accepted the relegation punishment. The club were also told they would need to slice another £2 million off their players’ wage bill and there were threats of them being forced to hand back league titles from any year they breached the salary cap.
The fall-out from the salary cap scandal was discussed by Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flanery on the latest episode of Baz & Andrew’s House of Rugby, including reports from England that Saracens are considering loaning players out to Irish provinces.
Saracens are already set to start next season without George Kruis and Liam Williams while the likes of Juan Figallo, Calum Clark and Michael Rhodes may also move on. On Sunday, Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall told The Daily Mail:
“Yes, we will have to [lose players]. Of course there are going to be changes. There is no doubt the bunch of players who we have in our squad now aren’t going to be the same bunch of players who we have in the Championship next year. That is for sure.”
It is noted, in that same piece, that the club is considering loaning several stars out for next season to Irish provinces. At present, at least half of Premiership clubs are loaning out players in order for them to stay within salary cap regulations.
The idea behind loaning players out to Ireland would be to give them competitive rugby but avoid sending them out to rival clubs in England. To this end, Scottish and Welsh clubs would also be in the reckoning.
That leaves Saracens with a big choice to make – do they loan out established stars like Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly, Jamie George, and more, or do they let the likes of Ben Earl, Many Vunipola, Alex Lozowski and Nick Isiekwe go for a season? According to McCall, the club will not stand in the way of any player looking to move on.
Looking at the current Saracens squad, here are four players that could fit in well at each of the Irish provinces.
- LEINSTER – Maro Itoje (Imagine teaming him up with James Ryan… )
- MUNSTER – Owen Farrell (World-class, of course, and can cover 10 and 12. Winning mentality, and then some)
- CONNACHT – Billy Vunipola (Connacht would gleefully take both Billy, his brother Mako and their cousin Manu)
- ULSTER – Will Skelton (Ulster looking good this season but their front five still needs big, talented units)
Although a province or two would, understandably, be tempted to draft in some proven talent for a season or two, the final call would need clearance from the IRFU.
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Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble are joined in the House of Rugby studio by Jerry Flannery as they look back on the final round of Champions Cup pool games, ahead to the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and discuss Saracens’ relegation after further salary cap breaches.