Chief Darren Childs admits Premiership Rugby can’t strip Saracens of their titles

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‘I was surprised we didn’t have the power… but we don’t’: Premiership Rugby chief to look into changing rules after revealing he couldn’t strip Saracens of their titles

  • The chief of Premiership Rugby was surprised his organisation could not act
  • Regulations state that no retrospective action can be taken against Saracens
  • Saracens opted for relegation instead of opening their books for forensic audit

Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs has expressed surprise that Saracens cannot be stripped of their titles despite multiple breaches of salary cap regulations.

The disgraced champions will be relegated at the end of the season, having already received a deduction of 35 points and a £5.4million fine.

Many within the English game want Saracens to forfeit the titles they won in 2018 and 2019, when they were spending above the cap limit of £7m, but Childs, who took up his post last September, confirmed there is no scope to take retrospective action.

Premiership Rugby CEO Darren Childs said the regulations means Sarries can keep their titles

Premiership Rugby CEO Darren Childs said the regulations means Sarries can keep their titles

Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell lift the Premiership trophy at Twickenham in June 2019

Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell lift the Premiership trophy at Twickenham in June 2019 

‘The regulations don’t allow for it,’ he said. ‘I was surprised we didn’t have the power to do that, but we don’t. We have to deal with it on that basis but looking at the future regulations, that is absolutely top of the agenda.’

Childs provided belated clarity about the decision to relegate Saracens, which was announced on Saturday without any explanation of the process. The club have been unable, or have refused, to prove they are operating within the cap this season.

‘The November judgment was about previous years and relegation is about this year,’ said Childs. ‘Relegation became inevitable as a consequence of the fact that Saracens consistently failed to show they were compliant with the salary cap this season — and we didn’t have approval for them to comply with a mid-season forensic audit.’

Saracens' former Chairman Nigel Wary (L) looks on during Sarries' European win on Sunday

Saracens’ former Chairman Nigel Wary (L) looks on during Sarries’ European win on Sunday

When PRL threatened to carry out their audit in a ‘non-voluntary way’, Saracens agreed to go down rather than have their accounts closely scrutinised. That suggested the club are a long way over the cap at present and need time to make cuts, and Childs added: ‘Yes, I think you could make that summation. That’s not an illogical conclusion.’

Amid widespread rumours of other clubs using dubious tactics to avoid breaching the cap, including abuse of the loan system, Childs emphasised that no other club is under investigation or suspicion.

He was adamant the cap must be retained and believes tightening the regulations will have the desired effect, adding: ‘We needed to clean this up. Nothing like this should ever happen again.’

The future of top players such as Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Farrell is now up in the air

The future of top players such as Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje and Farrell is now up in the air

At this stage, any prospect of ring-fencing the Premiership is off the agenda again, but a review of the cap limit is up for debate. Childs said: ‘There are different views from different clubs — some think it is too high, some think it is too low and some, who won’t be in our league next season, think we shouldn’t have a salary cap.’

Meanwhile, RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has confirmed that the Union will not take additional action against Saracens, and for now there is no plan to revise the policy against England selecting players based abroad. He also dismissed the idea that this episode might lead to a central-contract model being considered.

Leicester finally confirmed on Tuesday, after months of speculation, that Steve Borthwick will leave the England set-up after the Six Nations to become their new head coach.

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