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Baxter defends RFU over treatment of rivals



By George Sessions

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter has defended the Rugby Football Union over its treatment of Wasps and Worcester Warriors and questioned what other punishment the two financially-stricken clubs could have expected.

The Gallagher Premiership is in crisis after Wasps followed Worcester into administration on Monday when all 167 players and staff at the Coventry-based team were made redundant.

Wasps had already joined Worcester in being suspended from competition with both currently set to be automatically relegated from English rugby’s top tier, which will only make it harder to find a new buyer.

One interested party, Terminum Capital, withdrew its interest on Monday night after they were told Wasps’ P share, which were allocated to clubs in 2005, would not be included in any purchase.

Baxter, whose side were due to face Wasps last weekend, said: “People have got to remember when you say is it right the stance the RFU are taking or PRL (Premiership Rugby Limited), I think the one bit that surprises me that hasn’t been reported, is what is the alternative?

HM Revenue and Customs had hit Wasps with a winding-up order for £2m in unpaid tax and they were also required to repay a £35m bond which helped to finance their move to Coventry in 2014.

“Because what is the alternative? The alternative is that a business, a rugby club in the Premiership, can go into administration, can organise a pre-pack with somebody so they don’t lose their position in the Premiership, they don’t lose their P shares and they wipe their debts.

“Are we saying that is what we should have done because that seems to be suggested because if that is the truth, then why doesn’t every club in the Premiership that has got debts organise a pre-pack with an administrator, go into administration, keep their P shares, keep everything that is going to be of value, and wipe the debts of everyone they owe money to?

“Because if you do it for one club, you are saying that is the right thing to do. That is what surprises me about this argument around the P-share allocation.”

RFU chairman Tom Ilube insisted earlier this week everything will be done to give Wasps “the best chance of long-term survival” but other Gallagher Premiership teams are thought to be in similarly precarious positions.

It is partly behind why officials from Premiership Rugby and the RFU will face a parliamentary committee next month to answer questions about the league’s finances.

“I feel very much for all the people involved at Wasps and Worcester but that is a totally different argument,” Baxter insisted. “How can Premiership Rugby run a business that says it is okay to run into multiple administrations every time you run into debt?

“We would have no confidence in the business, no confidence in the TV deal and why would a sponsor ever come in to run a rugby club where in theory, once you feel like it, you can go into administration and wipe your debt.

“There has to be some repercussions and that is why those rules were put in place. Those rules were put in place at the start so we couldn’t as businesses do exactly that – we couldn’t just wipe our debts and start again with no repercussions.

“That is why I am really surprised there seems to be such a big argument about it. For me, it seems the most common sense thing that it has to be a fundamental rule. I can’t get my head about the argument with the P shares.”

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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