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Nigel Wray receives unlikely backing of comedy legend

By Josh Raisey
Billy Vunipola of Saracens is congratulated after scoring his try during the Champions Cup Final. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Saracens have endured one of the worst weeks off the field in living memory as they were handed a £5.36m fine by Premiership Rugby last Tuesday.


The three-time Champions Cup winners were also deducted 35 points in the Gallagher Premiership, after failing to disclose player payments over the past three years.

They have lodged an appeal, which means the deduction has been withheld for the time being, but chairman Nigel Wray has come under heavy scrutiny for the investments that he has made with various players in the team and companies set up in their name.

Wray has since highlighted in a statement that Premiership Rugby have acknowledged that Saracens did not intentionally seek to breach the salary cap, and has also made the distinction clear between a salary and an investment.

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This is what he said in a statement last week: “It has been acknowledged by the Panel that we never deliberately sought to mislead anyone or breach the cap and that’s why it feels like the rug is being completely pulled out from under our feet.”


Since then, Wray has received the backing from Monty Python member, and his cousin. Eric Idle. The comedy legend described Wray as the “most honourable man I know,” as well as “philanthropic, kind, generous” and emphasised that he has been pivotal in the “popularizing of rugby generally.”

Idle is not the first person to come out and support the way that Saracens is run, as the five-time Premiership winners are well known for the support in the local community, which includes founding a school. Additionally, the club have helped set up a number of businesses for the players to provide a life after rugby.

However, despite these endorsements, the reigning Premiership champions have still come under fire from chairmen, coaches and players and are much maligned for what has been deemed cheating, and they may struggle to shake that reputation.


Although there may be troubles behind the scenes, it was business as usual for the players last Saturday, as they overcame Gloucester 21-12 at Kingsholm amidst a hostile reception.

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Nigel Wray receives unlikely backing of comedy legend