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Premiership

Saracens Salary Cap Situation – Simplified.

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A Sportsmail investigation into Saracens has found that the Premiership club could be breaking salary cap rules.

The four-month long investigation has noted that property entrepreneur and club owner Nigel Wray has particular financial stakes with four current players.

The players in the frame are England captain Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, and both Billy and Mako Vunipola.

The salary cap set by Premiership Rugby Ltd is £7 million with clubs also being allowed to have two ‘marquee players’ whose salaries are excluded.

However, the investigation would raise the question as to whether the Sarries have been abiding by these rules.

The four players are all said to have shares in businesses with Wray, but it is doubted that these have been reported to club salary cap manager Andrew Roberts.

Farrell has a 50 per cent share in Faz Investments Ltd, a financial management company. Wray owns the other half of the company.

Wigglesworth is involved with Wiggy9 Investments in which he is the sole director occupies a 65 per cent share in the company with Wray owning the other 35 per cent.

The Vunipola brothers have 33.3 per cent shares in VunProp Ltd and are also directors of the property company.

Along with this it is believed that Wray has a share in property that is directly linked with players who have played for the club such as Schalk Brits and Jim Hamilton.

The players were living in the houses in question and it is wondered whether these ‘bonuses’ were accounted for in the annual club’s salary caps.

Saracens who have won three Premiership titles in four seasons along with two Champions Cups have eight current England stars on their books and will have nine come next season when Elliot Daly swaps over from Wasps.

Sportsmail understands that rival clubs will now ask for a full investigation into the matter while Premiership Rugby have declined to comment at this moment in time.

Any wrongdoing will see serious punishment for the club, but for now we will have to wait and see what happens.

Saracens have since released a statement:

Club Statement – Co-investment partnerships between the Saracens owner and players.

Following a newspaper article, the Club would like to make the following statement:

“Firstly, we would like to reiterate that the Club readily complies with Premiership Rugby salary regulations and information relating to remuneration is declared to the salary cap manager. Although co-investment partnerships between owners and players are not a prerequisite of the salary regulations, we disclose these transactions to Premiership Rugby and will continue to do so.

“Currently, 57% of the men’s squad is comprised of home grown talent – the highest in the Premiership. These players not only produce results on the pitch, they help entitle the Club to £1.2m in credits above the baseline salary cap from the RFU and Premiership Rugby. This is a direct result of our significant investment in the Saracens Academy which nurtures and develops Saracens and England players of the future.

“A professional playing career in rugby can be short. We have a responsibility to help our players fulfil their potential, not just on the pitch but off it too. It is why our Academy incorporates an education programme that actively prepares players for life beyond the sport. We are encouraged that many of our senior players are exploring business opportunities away from rugby.”

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Premiership

Saracens Set to Sign Springboks Out-Half

Saracens have agreed a deal to sign a Springbok fly-half ahead of the new season

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Saracens have agreed to sign Stormer and Springboks No 10 Damien Willemse as a World Cup cover player if he fails to break into Rassie Erasmus’ 31-man squad.

The out-half, who can also play centre, winger and full-back is currently playing in the Currie Cup but has been given the opportunity to play for Saracens according to Western Province coach John Dobson.

“If he doesn’t go to the World Cup, Damian could have an opportunity to go to Saracens on a short-term loan. If that does come about it will be a good thing for him as he can learn a lot through a short stint in the UK. Saracens, as you know, have a very good kicking game. If he goes there he will learn a lot about the game management that is expected of fly-half and he will come back better equipped to do well for us in Super Rugby. Our WP captain Chris van Zyl played for Saracens last year, enjoyed it and learnt a lot from the experience and was then back to take part in our pre-season,” he said.

As well as gaining experience Willemse could get some vital game time and be match-fit should an injury occur to someone in the 31-man squad and he would therefore be available to slot in.

Having come back from a knee injury Willemse is preparing for Western Province’s final Currie Cup game this weekend against the Cheetahs. Dobson is sure that Willemse could cut it at the reigning European and Premiership champions, but nothing is confirmed that he will head to England.

“Damian is a special kid off the field as well as on it and is a deep thinker on the game so I don’t think he’s going to be too badly knocked if he isn’t in the World Cup squad, but he does want to make a point to the national selectors. In his mind, he is still playing for a chance to be in the World Cup squad. Damian showed us last week when he came on against Griquas what a good attacking fly-half he is and we are expecting a lot from him against the Cheetahs. He is really motivated to do well for us and hopefully push our season out by another few weeks, but if he is not in the World Cup squad when it is announced on Monday he will then give some thought to Saracens,” he added.

The Springboks’ World Cup squad is set to be announced on Monday and it seems unlikely Willemse will be involved which would open the door for him to cover for the likes of England’s Owen Farrell while they go to Japan.

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Premiership

Bristol Bears announce All Black contract extension with quality Love Island video

Love Island Inspired

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Bristol Bears social media team need a pay rise.

They’ve given us some quality signing videos this year and other hilarious social media content and now they’ve just released this quality video announcing the contract extension of one of their key men. Check it out below.

He’s sticking around for #1MoreYear

Pat Lamb spoke about Afoa’s decision to stay another season,

“I’m absolutely delighted that John has committed to another season with the Bears. He is a genuinely world-class performer and a shining example to our younger players.”

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Premiership

London Irish Sign Tongan International Forward

London Irish’s impressive summer recruitment has continued as they have captured the signing of an experienced forward

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London Irish have confirmed the signing of Tongan international forward Steve Mafi ahead of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season.

The versatile forward, who is comfortable in both the second-row and back-row, has had previous experience in England having lined-out for Leicester Tigers over 80 times over a four-year spell and is excited to return to the Premiership.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me to return to England and test myself in the Premiership. London Irish is entering an exciting period in its history and I am thrilled to have signed. Next season will be a great challenge for myself and for the club and I cannot wait to run out and play for my first game in the famous green shirt,” he said.

Since his time with the Tigers Mafi has gone on to play for Super Rugby franchise the Western Force and Castres, where he won the Top 14 in 2018.

The Exiles director of rugby Declan Kidney is delighted to have added such an experienced player to his squad.

“Steve is another experienced addition to our squad moving forward. We know how demanding and challenging the Gallagher Premiership is, so it is important that we assemble a squad to meet the demands. Steve has a wealth of experience and the ability to cover several positions in the second and back row. We look forward to welcoming him to the club,” he said.

The 29-cap Tongan will certainly add experience to the club who are preparing for life back in the Premiership following their promotion from the Championship last season.

London Irish have already spent big this summer adding the likes of Waisake Naholo, Paddy Jackson, Noel Reid, Sean O’Brien, Sekope Kepu, and Nick Phipps among others with Mafi now joining the list of in-comings.

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