Saracens consider appealing ruling that stops them finishing top of Championship
Saracens are considering appealing against the Championship disputes committee’s decision to rule their postponed game with Hartpury due to an COVID outbreak as a draw without any league points awarded denying the North London club the chance to finish top of the table.
A bonus-point win with a margin of at least 12 points would have let Saracens leap-from Ealing Trailfinders into top spot at the end of the regular season of the truncated Championship and allow the former Premiership and European champions to hit the initial target they set after being relegated last season for salary cap breaches.
While the committee decision does not affect the two-leg promotion play-off battle between Saracens and Ealing as they are the top two sides, it has left many confused about the ruling which saw Hartpury, who had the positive tests, able to finish the season with a draw when they were expected to suffer a heavy defeat against powerful opponents.
Saracens had targeted top spot as England prop Mako Vunipola told RugbyPass: “Our goal is to finish top of the Championship and as competitors you want to be top of the log and not just finishing up the season.”
Saracens issued a statement confirming they could challenge the ruling and it said: “There is a right to appeal. As a club, we will consider our options, and have until 11th June to appeal the decision should we decide to proceed. All ticket purchasers for the scheduled Saracens v Hartpury University RFC game on 29th May will receive a full refund with the process expected to take between 7 to 10 working days.”
Not surprisingly, Hartpury have no plans to appeal and having completed their campaign said: “Hartpury does not intend to appeal this decision. This does mean that the 2021 season is now over for ourselves and the majority of the 11 clubs who participated in the shortened campaign. We would like to send our best wishes to both Saracens and Ealing Trailfinders, who will contest the play-off final for the right to appear in the Gallagher Premiership next season.”
Announcing their ruling, Championship organisers said: “The Committee concluded that the match should be considered as a 0 – 0 draw, with no league points awarded to either team.
“In light of the facts, the Committee considered Hartpury University RFC were not at fault for the cancellation of the fixture and noted that the only reserve weekend available for the Championship is 5th – 6th June. Hartpury University RFC confirmed they were not able to play that weekend as players still isolating under COVID-19 protocols and some injuries mean the club is unable to field a squad.
“While the positions of the clubs in the league table was not considered to be a relevant factor in determining the outcome of the cancellation, it was noted that the effect of the decision would not undermine the integrity of the competition.”
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