Following the outcome of the salary cap investigation into Saracens’ infractions, which have left the club with a £5.36m fine and a 35 point deduction in the Gallagher Premiership pending the club’s appeal, a number of figures within the game have come out aggressively with condemnation for the reigning domestic and European champions.
The Exeter Chiefs duo of chief executive Tony Rowe and director of rugby Rob Baxter have said that the punishment was not severe enough and that Saracens’ titles are tainted, as has Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond, whilst a number of current and former figures at Harlequins have also been vocal. Former England captain Chris Robshaw labelled Saracens’ actions as “cheating”, whilst John Kingston was similarly scathing of Harlequins’ London rivals.
Harlequins are no stranger to scandal, having been responsible for the infamous Bloodgate incident involving Tom Williams and then-director of rugby Dean Richards back in 2009, but that has not prevented individuals from the club coming forward in their criticism of Saracens.
The latest to add fuel to the fire is Quins scrum-half Danny Care, with the 32-year-old suggesting, in response to the revelations Saracens broke the salary cap for three years, that they “stick them in the Championship for that long and see if their players stay and want to play for them.”
Care, speaking on the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast, was typically outspoken.
“I hopefully speak for every other player in the Premiership, I know for everyone at Harlequins, that everyone kind of knows this has been going on for years and no one’s ever been able to say anything about it.
“In a one-on-one game we know we can challenge them, we know we can beat them on our day, but when you’ve go that much class, that much international experience, throughout the whole season you know in the long run you’re going up against a team that, let’s face it, have been cheating.
“People lose their jobs because they’re not performing well enough because everyone’s saying ‘why aren’t we as good as Saracens?’
“Over the years that it has been swept under the carpet, there was another previously that got brushed aside, this one has finally come out and finally some justice is being done, although £5m to Nigel Wray won’t even touch the sides.”
Care and Harlequins have had a relatively good record against Saracens in recent seasons, although they have struggled to replicate the heights of their Premiership title in 2012. Since then, Saracens have won four Premiership titles and three European titles, dominating club rugby in the northern hemisphere.
Watch: Chris Robshaw, Jonny Sexton and Iain Henderson speak at the Champions Cup launch
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.