Sarries back Venter

Saracens will appeal the RFU’s 14-week ban on director of rugby Brendan Venter, calling the union a ‘rural prep school’.

In his disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, Venter was cleared of pushing an opposing female supporter in their game against Leicester a fortnight ago. However, he was found guilty of making inappropriate gestures and comments to the Leicester spectators.

The RFU ruling said Venter waved and blew kisses in the direction of Leicester supporters who were calling at him to sit down as he was blocking their view of the action. There were also allegations of swearing.

The former Springbok’s punishment is a 14-week ban from the touchline, which means he will not have direct contact with his players in the English Premiership final against Leicester on Saturday.

In an RFU statement released on Thursday, disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett was critical of Saracens, saying the club should have done more to ensure its staff behaved better.

Saracens chief executive Ed Griffiths reacted in a counter-statement by saying: ‘This kind of public attack on a leading club does the RFU no credit at all. Perhaps it’s time for English rugby to be run like a modern professional sport, and not a rural prep school.’

Griffiths could himself face a misconduct charge for the outburst. RFU chairman Martyn Thomas will speak to the governing body president John Owen and chief executive Francis Baron about the comments on Friday.

‘I’m personally very unhappy at what I’ve read and what I’ve heard,’ Thomas told BBC Radio 5. ‘Nobody is bigger than the game of rugby and we’re becoming increasingly concerned at the erosion of the core principles of the game.’

According to the BBC, the RFU released an 11-page statement on Thursday, in which it observed Venter’s ‘arrogant behaviour’ during the hearing, citing his eating of biscuits and sweets as examples.

Thomas said: ‘You don’t go into the Old Bailey eating a biscuit. You show a degree of respect to the process in the court.’

Griffiths asked why biscuits were provided if they weren’t meant to be eaten.

‘Blackett’s judgement borders on self-parody, citing Venter eating a biscuit as alleged evidence of disdain for the process. Why did the RFU provide biscuits if they were not to be eaten?’