Sarries: ‘We are not naughty boys’

Saracens say their aim is not to rebel against the RFU but to improve England’s club sport structures.

The Watford-based club are no favourites of the RFU. Their rivalries with Leicester and Northampton have also intensified this season. Saracens’ South African-orientated ways (i.e. South African board, South African CEO, South African director of rugby, South African-dominated squad) have been criticised by many. However, it has helped the club achieve one of it’s most successful seasons in the English Premiership.

The Saracens supporters have accepted that their club is a multi-national entity. There is also young English talent in the squad as the likes of Alex Goode, Noah Cato, Adam Powell, Andy Saull, Jamie George and Owen Farrell are coming through the ranks.

However, they have been in hot water with the RFU this season. The latest incident is director of rugby Bredan Venter’s celebration after their win over Leicester three weeks ago. Venter received a 14-week match-day coaching ban for ‘behaviour prejudicial to the interests of the game’ and is set to miss the final against Leicester at Twickenham on Saturday.

However, Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths said they are not trying to create trouble, but to improve the structures in the English Premiership.

‘We don’t want to be seen as the brash, naughty boys of English rugby,’ Griffiths told The Independant on Wednesday, ‘but somewhat reluctantly, we’ve been drawn into a place where we wouldn’t choose to be. The idea that we’re South African raiders tearing up the fabric of the game here is nonsensical; we hold the values of the sport as dear as any club, we live by them day by day, and we don’t seek confrontation, although if something appears to us to be wrong, we’ll say so.

‘In essence, we want to make club rugby an entertaining sport. American sport is what I call an ‘invitation’ to the public’; by comparison, English sport is a challenge to them. It’s a challenge to find somewhere convenient to park, something decent to eat, somewhere reasonable to watch the game. We’re not trying to be a shock to the system, but we don’t want to do things just because it’s the way they’ve always been done. So we will continue to stage gatherings of our supporters at away games, to hand out a few pies and something to drink, to march to the ground in numbers. We are trying to be innovative, to add to what is already there.’

Meanwhile, Griffiths added that they will attempt to lift Venter’s ban ahead of the final at Twickenham.

‘I don’t want to run our appeal here and now, but we’re disappointed that the judgement spilled over from the issue of the case into comment about Saracens. We’ve lodged our papers and it won’t be a case of a hot dish served up cold. We’ll be making a new case on behalf of Brendan.

‘Brendan and his family deserve to be a part of what happens at Twickenham this weekend.’