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Champions Cup

Who Could be Leaving Saracens Soon?

With a growing acceptance that Saracens will have to chop and change their squad over the next few months, we take a quick look at who is reportedly set for the exit door

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Following Saracens breach of the salary cap regulations, leaving them with over £5m in fines and being docked 35 points things were always going to be tough but the extent of their downfall is coming to the fore now.

Having breached the £7m salary cap rule in each of the last three seasons, Sarries were hit with their punishments, but in recent days interim chief executive of the club Edward Grtiffiths admitted that they may have to offload players and reduce wages to comply with the rules for this season. 

With that in mind it became apparent that Wales international full-back Liam Williams could move to the Scarlets mid-season, having originally agreed a deal to join them during the summer. 

It remains unclear if that move will be fast-forwarded but when asked about the situation director of rugby Mark McCall confirmed there is a real chance that Williams may have played his final game for the club. 

“I’d say there is a possibility. It was Liam’s decision first up that he was going to go back to the Scarlets, back to Wales, and that was for family reasons. We understood that completely and we don’t regret, and he doesn’t regret, him coming to Saracens. We don’t regret bringing him to Saracens, he has been brilliant. He was always going to go back to Wales regardless of the salary cap decision,” he said. 

However, Williams has not featured for Saracens this season after picking up a long-term injury at the Rugby World Cup with Wales and they have plenty of cover for his position with the likes of Elliot Daly on the books. 

Following his comments on Williams McCall admitted that other players may follow him out of the club, but that those players would more than likely be ones entering the latter stages of their contracts or their careers. 

“We’ve got to make sure we do anything that needs to be done really well, and I am sure we will. We are hoping it won’t be too cold. If anything has to happen it will be to players who will be coming towards the end of their careers or their contract ends in four months’ time. Ideally that’s what would happen and we need to make sure those players leave the club amicably and on good terms, not on bad terms. I am really desperate for that to be the case because they have given the club a lot in the time they have been here. It is tricky, of course it is tricky, and it is not ideal but if something needs to be done, it needs to be done and we will do it as well as we can,” he added. 

It is believed that players such as Juan Figallo, Calum Clark and Michael Rhodes could also leave before the end of the current campaign to free up financial space. 

While star backs Brad Barritt and Richard Wigglesworth appear set for departure come the end of the current season in order to cut down the wage bill even further again. 

At this moment in time there are no worries of any of the club’s English internationals being cut loose meaning the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, George Kruis and both Billy and Mako Vunipola will remain.  

However, with Saracens fighting for survival in the Premiership and facing a battle to progress to the Champions Cup knock-out stages, only time will tell if their stars will stay or go as a lack of European rugby could push them away.

Champions Cup

Exeter Ace Signs Contract Extension

Following the news that England star Harry Williams has agreed a new deal with Exeter Chiefs another star player has committed his future to the Premiership giants

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

England prop Ben Moon has put pen to paper on a new deal with Premiership side the Exeter Chiefs.

The eight-cap England international has agreed a new “long-term” deal that will see him remain at Sandy Park for the foreseeable future and he is delighted to be staying at his hometown club. 

“Obviously, I’m delighted. To be at one club your whole career is pretty rare these days. The fact it’s my hometown club as well, it’s brilliant, and I feel very privileged to be part of the Chiefs. Luckily for me, I’ve been part of a brilliant journey – one which I know has plenty of miles still to go. What we have achieved as a club, as a team, and as individuals, it’s taken a huge amount of work and effort, but everyone has seen the result,” he said to the club’s website. 

Moon has been with the Chiefs since his time in the academy and has managed to pick up an incredible 259 appearances for the club, notching 11 tries in that time. 

He has been part of the team since their time in the English second-tier and has helped them rise up the ranks, culminating in a Premiership crown in 2017. 

It is further good news for the current Premiership league leaders after fellow England international Harry Williams signed a contract extension with the club over the weekend as the Chiefs build toward the future.

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Challenge Cup

EPCR Confirm European Competition Postponements

European Rugby have announced that the latter stages of the Champions and Challenge Cups will be pushed back due to coronavirus

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EPCR have released a statement to confirm that the semi-final and final stages of this year’s Champions and Challenge Cup will be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week it was announced that the quarter-final stage set to take place across the first weekend of April would be suspended and now the final stages have followed suit as expected the ECPR have confirmed. 

“Following a conference call on Monday, the EPCR board can reconfirm the suspension of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments and has furthermore decided to postpone the semi-final matches, as well as the 2020 Marseille finals, which were due to be played on the weekends of 1/2/3 May and 22/23 May respectively. In making the decision, the board is abiding by the official directives and recommendations of the relevant authorities in its territories to restrict the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of the earlier postponement of its quarter-final matches and with fixtures in Europe’s professional league competitions currently suspended due to the public health crisis, EPCR believes it necessary to provide as much clarity as possible to all stakeholders regarding the knockout stages of its tournaments. To that end, EPCR is working with the leagues and unions to restructure a conclusion to its season as part of a wider rescheduling of the remainder of the season in Europe, with all contingencies underpinned by the requirement to protect the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community.  EPCR remains committed to completing the 2019/20 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season, and it is planned to reschedule the quarter-final and semi-final matches, as well as the Marseille finals, in line with fixtures in the professional league competitions, subject to advice from government and local authorities,” the statement read. 

The final weekend was set to take place in Marseille and reports last weekend had claimed that officials were still hopeful of finishing there on the chosen date. 

However, even with this announcement it is hard to see when they will conclude the European season as all domestic leagues have been suspended until further notice and the clock is ticking toward the start of next season as it appears unlikely that any rugby will be played in the foreseeable future.

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Champions Cup

Saracens Face EPCR Misconduct Hearing

Saracens are set to face yet another hearing but this time it’s on the European front

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Saracens are set to face a misconduct hearing with the EPCR today at 18 00 the European Rugby body have confirmed.

The reigning Champions Cup holders are in trouble after they informed officials earlier in the week that they may have fielded an ineligible player during their Champions Cup win over Racing 92 last month which sealed them a quarter-final place. 

The player in question is Titi Lamositele, who came off the bench in the 60th minute of the clash against the Top 14 side. It is understood that when the squad was announced for the game that the player was eligible. 

However, his work permit did in fact expire on January 18th, with the game taking place on the 19th, which could have caused a breach in the disciplinary rules.

An independent Disciplinary Committee will hear the complaint later today, with it being chaired by Roger Morris (Wales), Pamela Woodman (Scotland) and Jean-Noel Couraud (France). 

It is the latest blow in what has been a dramatic season to date for the Premiership outfit, who were found to have breached salary cap regulations in the competition and being fined and docked points before being relegated outright last month. 

They were docked further points recently to ensure that they will finish the season in last place in the Premiership. 

While on the European front they have already caused problems for the EPCR by failing to show up to the competition’s opening event. 

Despite all the drama they have managed to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup and will face last season’s beaten finalists Leinster away from home, but it remains to be seen what their latest punishment could be if found guilty.

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