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Premiership

Saracens owner releases another statement.

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Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

Last week Saracens hit the headlines after ‘salary cap’ concerns. Owner Nigel Wray came out publicly last week and has came out this morning with the below message:

Statement from Saracens.com

“If you think of the Saracens culture and how we look after our people as a jigsaw puzzle then co-investments with players and staff are just one piece of the puzzle. The Saracens journey has taught me far more about what really caring for people means and how powerful that can be.
There was much talk last week about Saracens and in particular my co-investment partnerships with players past and present. First and foremost, I am an advocate of entrepreneurialism and independent spirit. Small businesses and young entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and it is why I have personally invested in hundreds of these opportunities over 40 years.

As a Club, we want and actively encourage all of our players to consider their futures beyond playing the sport we all love. A professional rugby career can be short-lived and we have a responsibility to educate, prepare and support all of our players in carving alternative career pathways for their lives after rugby. We are a Club that cares.

Our culture has evolved and will continue to do so but being a family matters to us. How do you look out for your family?

Players are supported in many ways. From arranging business secondments for work experience through to a creche facility at the training ground for their kids. Twelve players have been on work placements with our Club sponsors, Allianz and CME. Former player, Nils Mordt joined CME full time after finishing his rugby career as a direct result of a work placement during his time playing at Saracens. Hayden Smith is enjoying a very successful career at Enstar, where Saracens board director Dominic Silvester is CEO. Peter Harvey, former Corporate & Commercial Banking CEO at Barclays and a huge Saracens supporter, has worked for over 10 years with Saracens players as part of our Player Development Programme. Sadly, Joel Conlon had to retire through injury earlier this season and Peter has been helping Joel with his post rugby career choices by introducing him to board directors and exploring opportunities. We supported and nurtured Alex Sanderson, Kevin Sorrell, Paul Gustard and Andy Farrell as coaches when their playing careers came to an end and look where they are now…

Education is a crucial part of our culture. Those of you who know about the Saracens High School which opened last September will know that. We have had 17+ players who have gone on to further education including, to name but a few, George Kruis who got a first-class degree in Business Management, Jackson Wray who has a BA Hons psychology degree, Ben Earl who is studying Comparative Literature and Rotimi Segun who is studying Chemistry. Mark and the coaching team have always been fully supportive of this. Our strength and conditioning and medical staff will often rearrange sessions or come in on weekends to allow young players to go to university. It’s a Club wide ethos. Approximately, 75 per cent of the squad are involved in either university education, an industry qualification, meaningful work experience or an entrepreneurial venture.

We invest in developing our coaches from the Academy up. For example, Kelly Brown, a former player, who is now an Academy Coach and spent some time with Scotland Rugby to learn. Adam Powell, another former player, is now an Academy Coach and has a hugely bright future. Our staff are just as important to us as our players and we are currently running an internal training and development programme modelled around ‘The Saracens Way’ – an executive and management coaching programme run by Will Fraser, a former player who embodies the culture and ethos of Saracens.

We can’t list all these examples without recognising the incredible work that David Jones, our Personal Development Manager, does. David works tirelessly to develop tailored development programmes for each and every one of our players and is always there to listen. He is dedicated in this role.

It goes without saying that not everyone can be entrepreneurial and obviously investment comes in many forms. The more commercial investments often require significant capital and hence are largely co-investments with our senior squad. We actively support independent business. For example, when our captain Brad Barritt founded Tiki Tonga Coffee, we created an opportunity for them to sell their products at Allianz Park (for which they pay a commercial rights fee to Saracens). Tiki Tonga is 100 per cent funded by Brad and his business partner Justin and has recently opened their first coffee shop in South Africa. When Chris Wyles and Al Hargreaves started Wolfpack Lager, we were happy to help them on their way and I was delighted to have the opportunity to invest. Former player Jim Hamilton has also invested and I have recently increased my investment as the value of Wolfpack Lager grows. Ben Spencer and Henry Taylor have their table business 99 which has supplied various coffee shops. Henry also did work experience in Geneva three weeks ago organised by us, with Louis Dreyfus a commodities company. At Allianz Park we also have Fines Master Gin on site, a business launched by Michael Rhodes, Raw Spirit which is the brain child of Mike Ellery & Tim Streather, and Sanderson’s Puddings run by Alex Sanderson’s mum.

If any of our players have a sound commercial idea, I am interested and I may invest. The least I will do is offer advice. I recognise that in some quarters, these co-investments are perceived as part of the Premiership salary regulations. They are not. Investment is not salary. Investments go up and down. It’s an opportunity and a risk. It might be immodest to say this but between the Board and some hugely generous supporters our players have access to some of the best investment advice available anywhere in the country and we are all happy to share this for everyone’s benefit.

The Club is open and transparent with the salary cap manager and we proactively disclose co-investments when they occur, even though we are under no obligation to do so. We respect the rules and the salary regulations that are in place.

Our success is built on the strength of our Academy and the incredible efforts of the Academy staff are often overlooked. Of our current squad, 57 per cent is home-grown talent, the highest in the league, contributing towards the £1.2 million in credits we receive from PRL which, incidentally, makes our salary cap higher than most.Through significant investment in our academy system we have developed 58 players for the Saracens senior team, 11 internationals and four British & Irish Lions since 2008.

But there is, as always, so much more to do. With that connection, I am pleased to say we have now received full permission for the new West Stand, fully financed and with a strong partnership with Middlesex University. Work begins in the off season.

All the best,

Nigel”

A very interesting message which clearly shows that Saracens aren’t just a club that produces quality rugby players.

Premiership

London Irish Confirm 10th Summer Signing Already

London Irish have announced the arrival of yet another new player

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(Photo credit MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)

London Irish have made their 10th signing of the summer already by confirming the arrival of Ruan Botha from the Sharks. 

The South African second-row, who has 64 Super Rugby appearances to his name as well as experience captaining the Sharks, joins on an initial six-month contract in which he will act as cover during the Rugby World Cup.

Once the six-months are up he will link-up with Japanese Top League side Kubota Spears before re-joining the Exiles for pre-season in June 2020 and preparing for the 2020/21 season.

Speaking ahead of the move the 27-year-old talked of how he delighted to be joining the club at a time when they are set to return to the Premiership.

“London Irish is entering an exciting period in its history and I am immensely proud to be joining at such an important time as they return to the Premiership. I look forward to meeting up with my teammates for pre-season,” he said.

Meanwhile, London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney is looking forward to the multiple qualities the massive lock brings with him.

“Ruan being available during the Rugby World Cup period is a major boost to us. He has a lot of top-class rugby experience and will also bring a lot more to the squad in terms of his leadership qualities,” he said.

Botha becomes the latest in a long list of stars to join the English outfit with Allan Dell, Adam Coleman, Sekope Kepu, Paddy Jackson, Sean O’Brien, Nick Phipps, Curtis Rona, Waisake Naholo and Will Goodrick-Clarke all signed up over the past few weeks. The club will be hoping that their good transfer work works a treat as they look to stay up upon their return to the top-tier.

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Premiership

Leicester Set to Sign Another Big Player

Leicester Tigers summer recruitment looks set to continue with the capture of another southern hemisphere star

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(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Leicester are reportedly set to secure the signing of South African forward Hanro Liebenberg from the Bulls

South African outlet Rapport claim that the 23-year-old former South African U20 captain has already signed the dotted line to move to the Tigers.

The back-rower who can also cover the second-row if needed, suffered a ruptured a small intestine a couple of years ago and it had been feared that it could end his promising career early.

However, after two successful operations he has recover and thankfully rediscovered his fine form from before the injury.

As well as being one of the brightest prospects in South Africa, Liebenberg is piped to be one of the future stars of southern hemisphere rugby and would be a major coup for the English side.

Coming off their poorest season in the professional era where they finished a disappointing 11th following a 32-31 loss to Bath in their final game of the Premiership season, the club has started a massive rebuilding project.

With that in mind they have already signed Jordan Taufua, Tomas Lavanini, Jaco Tuate, Noel Reid and Nephi Leatigaga while also recalling former academy graduates Calum Green and Charlie Clare.

The capture of Liebenberg would add to their push for next season as they hope to stay as far away from the regulation zone of the Premiership table as possible.

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International

Former Scottish International Retires at Just 31

One of Scotland’s most popular players has called time on his playing career

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(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Former Scotland international and current Harlequins winger Tim Visser will close the curtain on his career at the end of the season at just 31. 

Known as “The Flying Dutchman” having been found in his native Netherlands playing sevens rugby, Visser joined Harlequins in 2015 from Edinburgh and has made 66 appearances for the club.

Visser has thanked Harlequins for his chance to play for them but is looking forward to settling down with his family.

“I’d like to thank everyone at Harlequins for the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic club. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I feel now is the time for me to move on to new challenges outside of rugby with my young family. I’m looking forward to trying and proving myself in a completely different career,” he said.

The winger played for Scotland 33 times scoring 14 tries and Harlequins boss Paul Gustard paid tribute to his impressive career.

“Tim has enjoyed an exceptional career and has been a fantastic servant over the past three seasons here at Harlequins. I have thoroughly enjoyed his company and have always respected his commitment, attitude and humour since I joined the club last July. He is an immensely valued and very popular member of the squad whom we will miss. We all wish him and his family the very best as he embarks on a new adventure,” he said.

Visser started his career in the UK with Newcastle Falcons before his move to Edinburgh and then Quins. He also represented Scotland at the 2015 World Cup and scored against the USA in the pool stages and will be remembered fondly among fans of the game.

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