Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursday’s Rugby News

Thursdays Rugby News sees Salary Scandal in England, Review and Selection Panels and Samu extends his contract.




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English heavy weight club Saracens, have been docked 35 competition points and fined over £5 million (A$9.3 million)  for breaching the salary cap for several years.

After a nine month investigation and five-day hearing, the independent panel concluded that Saracens had breached the £7 million a year salary cap.

The statement from Premiership Rugby did not disclose by how much the club was in breach of the cap, but under the salary cap regulations it must exceed £650,000, which is the amount which triggers the maximum 35-point penalty.

“The decision of the Independent Panel is that Saracens Rugby Club failed to disclose payments to players in each of the seasons 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19,” read a statement from Premiership Rugby.

“In addition, the Club is found to have exceeded the ceiling for payments to senior players in each of the three seasons. The Panel therefore upheld all of the charges,

“The Salary Cap Regulations stipulate that a points deduction may be imposed in the current season (2019-20) only,

“The sanction has no bearing on any other domestic or European competition.”

Saracens, who finished last season on 78 points before winning the final against Exeter, will now start the fourth round of this season on -26 points.

The clubs chairman Nigel Wray announced it would appeal the sanction.

“For over 25 years, I have put my heart and soul into the game I love,” he said in the statement.

“Together we have created something incredibly special with the Saracens family, both on and off the field.

“This is absolutely devastating for everyone associated with this amazing group of players, staff, partners and fans.

“It has been acknowledged by the Panel that we never deliberately sought to mislead anyone or breach the cap and that’s why it feels like the rug is being completely pulled out from under our feet.

“We will appeal all the findings.”

Saracens provided nine players to the English squad for the World Cup, including captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and the Vunipola Brothers, South Africa’s Vincent Koch, Wales’ Liam Williams and Scotlands Duncan Taylor. 

It is also home of former Wallaby Will Skelton who is currently experiencing a career resurgence at the Championship club.

Chief Executive of Exeter Tony Rowe, whose team lost the final to Saracens back in June has called for the London club to be relegated. 

“They should be relegated,” Rowe said. “It just leaves a sour taste in the mouth when you go to Twickenham and we just didn’t quite have enough firepower, you know? And that’s because we didn’t break the salary cap and pack our squad full of international players.”

Saracens posted an operation loss of £3.89 million at the end of the financial year, and if the judgment is upheld the club would struggle to maintain its top tier talent and dominance.


A fitting way to send off Bullet

A fitting way to send off Bullet

What does an Ex Wallaby, a Cricket executive and an olympic rower have in common? They have the pleasure of being the review panel to look into Australia’s International Rugby program.

In a statement from Rugby Australia, it was announced that former Wallaby Nathan Sharpe, former Wallaby and prominent sports administrator and executive Pat Howard and four-time olympic rower and high performance professional Bo Hanson will form a panel and work with Director of Rugby Scott Johnson to conduct a review of the 2019 Wallabies season.

The panel will not be involved in the selection of the new Wallabies coach, but (sadly) it was confirmed that the new head coach appointment will happen by the end of the year.

The panel will interview all 2019 Wallabies players and staff members with the view to recommending steps forward in all realms of the program, ranging from coaching and planning to the selection process.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle released a statement regarding the previous reviews, the newly appointment panel and the long term goals.

Twelve months ago Rugby Australia completed a restructure of its High Performance environment and whilst we’ve made significant progress in a number of areas, the new structure is only in its early stages and still needs time to bed-in completely and show long-term results.

“The review of the recently-completed Wallabies season will be led by a three-member panel who combined will offer significant expertise and experience from both within and outside the sport, and from both an on and off-field perspective.

“Pat Howard has experienced Rugby at the highest levels as a player, coach, and High Performance leader both in Australia and overseas, and will also bring extensive learnings from his time at Cricket Australia, having completed dozens of post-campaign reviews.

“Bo Hanson is one of the country’s leading High Performance experts and has led similar review processes across several sports, including Rugby, over the past two decades.

“Nathan Sharpe is one of the most accomplished players in the history of our game and was universally-respected as a player and an on-field leader. He brings recent experience in the Wallabies program having retired from international Rugby in the past seven years and has maintained a close involvement with the game through his role with Network Ten.

“Having these three individuals leading the process will provide a well-rounded perspective on the Wallabies program and enable us to take forward any key learnings for delivery into the major tournament preparations of all of our national teams over the next four-year cycle.”


Peter Samu off-loads Canberra Vikings v QLD Country NRC 2019

Brumbies backrower Pete Samu has extended his contract to the end of the 2022 season, even with one more year still on his contract. 

The former Crusader was brought across to Australian Rugby by former coach Michael Cheika, with the goal to have him for the World Cup, but that didn’t work out for Samu who narrowly missed the squad.

Instead Samu shined for the Canberra in the NRC, where he was one of the Vikings best players.

“I am very excited by the opportunity to extend my current Brumbies contract and commit myself to the Brumbies for the next three years,” Samu said of the announcement.

“I feel I have settled in well in Canberra and I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. We have a strong bond within our playing group and a lot of quality in every position and I am looking forward to being able to contribute towards the club’s success.”

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said the Samu had made himself a highly valued member of the team.

Pete did an excellent job for us in his debut season and we are delighted that he has committed to the club long term,” he said.

“He has settled into the group well, played some outstanding rugby last season and is quickly becoming a leader within our team.

“His improved physicality is nicely complemented by very good skill, speed and rugby smarts. All traits that suit and complement how we want to play at the Brumbies.

“Pete also offers versatility which is so important to have within a squad over the course of a season. He epitomises the modern backrower with the ability to cover 8, 6 or 7.”




NZRU have formed a new selection panel to find a replacement for Steve Hansen, with New Zealand netball royalty being included in the panel.

Former Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumanu, NZR chairman Brent Impey, incoming CEO Mark Robinson, coaching legend Sir Graham Henry and NZR head of high performance Mike Anthony make up the five person panel that will select a new head coach.

Like Rugby Australia, they hope to have an announcement by the end of the year. 

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has long been believed to be the natural successor for Steve Hansen, who had been the assistant coach to his predecessor, but after the All Blacks exit from the World Cup, his appointment might not be so clear cut.

Other names up for the job has been Crusaders coach and amateur break dancer Scott Robertson, who has been a dominate force at the Crusaders, and Jamie Joseph who took Japan to their first ever World Cup final after they topped their pool. Dave Rennie is also up for consideration after the worst kept secret that Australia were interested in him for the Wallabies job. 

Chairman Brett Impey did not mention any names in his statement but did confirm that they had spoken to serve candidates about applying. 

“This is a hugely exciting time for New Zealand Rugby.  We know that the All Blacks and New Zealand have been served well by exceptional coaches, so we are well aware of the importance of the task ahead,” he said.

“We believe we have an excellent group of people on the panel, balancing the experience of winning high performance teams and leadership with external perspective and experience.

“This is an official employment process, and therefore it’s confidential.  We are looking forward to announcing the next head coach of the All Blacks next month.”



Once captained the 3rds Rugby team, but then again so did Nick Farr-Jones

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