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Joe Marler slams Ian McGeechan column praising Saracens owner Nigel Wray

By Paul Smith
Joe Marler has slammed Saracens' owner Nigel Wray (Photo by Glyn Kirk - Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

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Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler has started another storm with a typically to-the-point response to a Daily Telegraph article about Saracens’ owner Nigel Wray.

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“Crawl out mate” Marler tweeted in reaction to the piece in which hugely respected former Lions head coach Ian McGeechan paid tribute to Sarries’ outgoing owner.

While it is unclear if his comment is principally aimed at Wray or the author, the former British & Irish Lions loose head certainly dislikes the largely positive view taken.

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Max’s book club – Joe Marler edition
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McGeechan’s story came on the back of last week’s breaking news that a South African investment consortium is to take over the Barnet-based club.

This brings Wray’s 26-year term as Saracens owner to an end two years after the club was relegated from the Gallagher Premiership for breaching the salary cap.

Underneath the headline: “Nigel Wray is one of the good guys and leaves a great legacy behind,” Sir Ian paid tribute to a man who has divided English rugby.

“Nigel was all about making professional rugby the best product it could possibly be and Saracens the best club they could possibly be,” he wrote.

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“He made decisions in the best interests of the sport in general and his club in particular.”

Wray bore the brunt of criticism aimed at Saracens in the wake of the salary cap breach, not least because of his involvement as an investor alongside senior players in a number of business ventures which were not revealed to Premiership Rugby.

Marler received plenty of support with close to 500 of his followers liking his tweet.

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Others took a different view, however, suggesting that players – including Marler – have benefitted financially from the inflationary effects of Wray’s approach to funding professional rugby.

A number of other comments reminded the prop that his own club has a skeleton in the cupboard thanks to the Bloodgate affair, which took place prior to Marler’s involvement with Harlequins’ first team.

Sarries’ new owners are led by Dominic Silvester, a long-standing supporter and the chief executive of Enstar Group, a multi-national insurance company.

Silvester’s new board includes 1995 World Cup winning skipper Francois Pienaar who in 1988 captained the club to their first trophy in 127 years, and England legend Maggie Alphonsi who is also a former Saracens player.

Wray retains a minority stake but becomes a passive investor without any direct influence over the club’s operation.

Sources close to the deal said shareholders will inject more than £30m into the club to accelerate development projects such as the completion of its new West Stand, the Saracens women’s team and the construction of a new high-performance facility.

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