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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

Newcastle Falcons sign former Ulster forward

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Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Former Ulster back-five forward Matthew Dalton has joined Newcastle Falcons on a two-year deal.

Standing at 6 foot 6 and weighing 115kg, the ex-Ireland Under-20s international is already on Tyneside, aiming to hit the ground running for the start of pre-season.

“I wasn’t supposed to start until July 1 but I had a bit of a chat with the coaches, and we thought it would be best if I came over early,” said Dalton, the 22-year-old who has played ten times for Ulster.

“I arrived a few weeks back and have been working hard with the strength and conditioning coaches. It’s a chance to meet everyone, see the lay of the land and put in some graft ahead of the start of pre-season. It’s been great so far, and I’ve made some big gains.”

A former international pentathlete for Ireland Schools, with high jump and hurdles as his stronger events, Dalton believes the Falcons’ high-tempo game will suit his own personal attributes as he strives to make his Gallagher Premiership breakthrough.

“I like to bring some speed to the game with the way that I play,” said the former Malone RFC man who has played mainly in the second row, with a handful of appearances on the blind-side flank.

“Looking at the pitch here and the way the Falcons go about their game, I think that could be a good fit.

“Coming into a Premiership team from the Pro 14 – there are definitely a lot of differences, but also a few similarities. Newcastle have got a very fit and dynamic pack, and with the style of rugby I play I think it will marry well.

“I’ve had a bit of time off to do some growing up and self-reflecting, and this is definitely a good move for me. I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity presented to me over these next two years, and I’m just incredibly glad how it’s worked out.”

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Matty is a real talent who is blessed with great athleticism.

“He has shown his work ethic by coming over early and laying the foundations for pre-season, and I’m excited about what he can bring to our squad during his time here with us.”

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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Premiership

London Irish centurion to retire

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(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

London Irish full-back Tom Homer is retiring from the sport with immediate effect following the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

Homer, who made 126 appearances and scored 785 points for the Exiles across two stints with the Club, has decided that it’s the right time for him to hang up his boots.

Tom had agreed a move to French side US Montalbanaise but has since decided his future is away from the rugby field.

“I suppose my love for life is now beyond the rugby field,” explained Homer.

“I’ve played rugby for 13 years now and have some brilliant memories, but it just feels like the right time to retire.

“There is something poetic about finishing at the Club where it all started. I’m looking forward to the next adventure.”

Looking back at his career, Homer chose not to reflect a particular match, try or conversion, but more so on those fellow players he has shared the pitch with.

“My first year at London Irish and getting to play in the Premiership Final was a massive highlight, but more than anything, I will remember the people that I got to share those types of experiences with,” he said.

“Thank you to all the people that have supported me during my career, you stuck with me through thick and thin. I really appreciate it.”

Declan Kidney, when commenting on Tom’s decision said: “We wish nothing but the best to Tom and his family in the future.

“He has had a fantastic career and should be very proud of everything that he has achieved. I know he will be successful in whatever path he chooses to do next, and I would like to thank him for his generosity, work ethic and friendship during his time at London Irish.”

Thank you for everything Tom. Good luck in your future – you will always be welcome at Hazelwood.

Source – London Irish Rugby

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Premiership

Wasps team to face Leicester Tigers as fans return to Ricoh Arena on Saturday

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Lee Blackett has named his Wasps side to host Leicester Tigers, in front of fans at Ricoh Arena, in the final round of the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday.

There are five changes to the starting line-up that won against London Irish last time out.

Malakai Fekitoa returns from injury to partner Michael Le Bourgeois in the centres.  

Josh Bassett will make his 150th Wasps appearance on Saturday, as he forms the back three with Marcus Watson and Rob Miller, who comes in for the injured Charlie Atkinson at full-back.

Jacob Umaga will also make his 50th Wasps appearance on Saturday, as he once again forms the half-back partnership with Dan Robson.  

The front row trio of Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor and Kieran Brookes line up for their final appearances in Wasps colours.

Will Rowlands also makes his final outing in Black and Gold in the second row with James Gaskell.

The only other change to the pack sees Sione Vailanu come in for the injured Thomas Young. Vailanu starts at number eight in his final Wasps game, meaning man-of-the-match from last week Tom Willis moves to blindside flanker and captain Brad Shields shifts to seven.

Amongst the replacements there is a welcome return to action for Alfie Barbeary. He is joined on the bench by Gabriel Oghre, Ben Harris, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Tim Cardall, Jimmy Gopperth, Juan de Jongh and Ben Vellacott, with de Jongh and Vellacott in line to play their last games for the Club.

Wasps team to face Leicester Tigers at Ricoh Arena on Saturday in Gallagher Premiership Round 22 (kick-off 3:00pm)

Wasps (First-team appearances)

15 Rob Miller (125)

14 Marcus Watson (51)

13 Malakai Fekitoa (36)

12 Michael Le Bourgeois (58)

11 Josh Bassett (149)

10 Jacob Umaga (49)

9 Dan Robson (136)

1 Simon McIntyre (183)

2 Tommy Taylor (90)

3 Kieran Brookes (58)

4 Will Rowlands (112)

5 James Gaskell (140)

6 Tom Willis (40)

7 Brad Shields (52) (c)

8 Sione Vailanu (31)

Replacements

16 Gabriel Oghre (45)

17 Ben Harris (79)

18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen (44)

19 Tim Cardall (29)

20 Alfie Barbeary (14)

21 Ben Vellacott (19)

22 Jimmy Gopperth (127)

23 Juan de Jongh (66)

Unavailable due to injury: Charlie Atkinson (Concussion), Lasha Jaiani (Pectoral), Zach Kibirige (Ankle), Joe Launchbury (ACL), Ryan Mills (Foot), Matteo Minozzi (Eye), Paolo Odogwu (ACL), Will Simonds (Groin), Sam Spink (Groin), Theo Vukasinovic (Achilles), Tom West (LCL/Hamstring), Jack Willis (PCL/MCL), Thomas Young (Hamstring).

Source – Wasps Rugby

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