EPCR could be about to hand Saracens a Champions Cup lifeline… provided the authorities ever get around to rescheduling the defending champions’ postponed quarter-final versus Leinster in Dublin. The Londoners, who defeated the Irish province in last year’s decider in Newcastle, were due to put their title on the line at the Aviva Stadium on April 4 but the coronavirus outbreak instead led to the suspension of the tournament.
No new date for the match has been suggested due to the uncertainty surrounding when the sport might be able to start staging games again, but a report in the Telegraph has claimed that if the European season is eventually resumed that Saracens will be given a helping hand.
Automatically relegated from the Premiership for the 2020/21 season, Mark McCall is due to lose the services of a huge tranche of players on July 1. That exodus included the loss of Max Malins, Ben Earl and Jack Singleton, who have all secured loan deals to other Premiership clubs, and the likely exit to George Kruis to Japan.
The cut-off date to register players for the European quarter-finals was March 26 but with the entire schedule wiped out, a fresh date is likely to be set and guidelines amended so that Saracens can add academy players to their roster and provide support to the likes of the Vunipola brothers and Owen Farrell are staying on at the club despite their relegation.
Flexibility is seen as an imperative with Saracens set to lose so many of their currently registered squad on July 1 through contracts signed with other clubs. Rather than mess around with these deals, a sports lawyer insisted to the Telegraph that it was best for the sport to allow the moves to go ahead as planned.
“Come July 1, these players need to be at their new clubs or there would be all sorts of contractual arguments,” said Richard Cramer. “Players could look at extending their current contracts but if you start looking to extend beyond July 1 that becomes complicated. Who pays them? Who pays their insurance to play? It would be a possibility but difficult.”
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