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How stars hinder Saracens' survival

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How having a star-studded squad will hinder - not help - Saracens' bid to avoid relegation

Saracens’ bid to avoid relegation after a 35-point reduction and £5.3million fine for salary cap breaches will be severely affected by the star-studded squad the Heineken Cup and Premiership double champions have assembled – and the far-reaching implications of the sanctions will cascade into next season.

RugbyPass understands the club is already examining the implications of the independent panel’s ruling which Saracens will appeal against, identifying which players may have to be let go. Wales winger Liam Williams is one name in the discussion.

The club is also discussing the possible need for salary cuts to deal with the implications of Tuesday’s PRL ruling and any battle to avoid relegation is certain to be shaped by the number of international players who will be involved in the 2020 Six Nations championship.

Saracens, who would be 30 points behind 11th place Bath on -26 points is they were to be unsuccessful in their appeal, will be unable to call upon their significant England squad presence, which includes Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Billy and Mako Vunipola, for up to six rounds of Gallagher Premiership matches taking place either before or during the Six Nations. 

Their England contingent also includes Elliot Daly, who arrived from Wasps in the summer, and it was his signing that many believe was the final straw for rival clubs.

(Continue reading below…)

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This season’s elongated campaign caused by the impact of the World Cup in Japan looks certain to have a messy climax with any appeal by Saracens certain to take a considerable time to unfold. That could leave the question of who goes down hanging in the legal balance.

With so many of their England stars tied up with Six Nations matches and also affected by the agreed rest periods for internationals, Saracens’ battle to stay in the top flight will come down to their wider squad, many of them home-grown players who have come through the academy.

Owner Nigel Wray, who is currently flying back to Britain, has made it clear he wants to appeal the independent panel’s ruling but he cannot affect the impact of those six rounds of Premiership matches will have on the club’s fortunes with a 35-point reduction ready to be implemented by league officials.

Wray has wanted the whole concept of the salary cap examined, but RugbyPass has been assured that the other Premiership clubs are more adamant than ever that a cap is vital for the future health of a league whose members struggle to make a profit. 

Supporters of Wray are asking if the cap has been “evenly and accurately” administered across all of the clubs, but insiders insist there isn’t an appetite for a witch-hunt of other Premiership outfits whom many believe have also pushed the envelope when it comes to the salary cap.

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How having a star-studded squad will hinder - not help - Saracens' bid to avoid relegation