The Saracens salary cap scandal has finally been given some sense of finality with the announcement that the club would be relegated at the end of the season.
The English side have long pushed back on claims that they purposely broke salary cap rules in order to sign and retain their players, but the fact that they accepted the decision despite having the ability to appeal is perhaps telling.
While some, including Stephen Jones, continue to fight their corner, this does feel like a fitting punishment. After all, there seems little doubt that their bending of the rules had a major impact on their success over the last decade or so.
Speaking on BT Sport this afternoon, both Brian O'Driscoll and Lawrence Dallaglio felt this relegation to the second tier was a more just punishment than the 35-point deduction they had been previously been given.
Dallaglio felt severe sanctions were required in order to deter teams from doing something similar in the future:
A dark weekend for Saracens. A dark weekend for rugby.
The situation at the club is dissected by @BrianODriscoll and @dallaglio8... pic.twitter.com/DpIuMtCucv
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 19, 2020
More needed to be done to regain the credibility and integrity of the competition. If you're going to have a salary cap and people are going to abuse it consistently over a period of time, there have to be consequences.
If the consequences are only a 35-point deduction, that doesn't really work because what it says is you can abuse the salary cap, retain your trophies, and retain your status within the division.
It will have huge ramifications not just for Saracens, because this squad will be disbanded, but for English rugby.
Stephen Jones has suggested that the whole Saracens scandal was a witch hunt set up by other clubs in the Premiership who wanted to end the dominance of the club.
He even hinted that they played a part in their demise by refusing to help them shed some salary by taking players off their hands.
O'Driscoll said this argument is nonsense and other clubs had their every right to not take on any extra salary. The former Ireland captain also said that the whole league had been tarnished by the actions of Saracens, with their success in European rugby also diminished as a result:
It's a bit of a misnomer being reported that some of the clubs are trying to freeze out the Saracens players that are being touted around.
The simple fact is that they are trying to stay within the confines of the £7million salary cap and there's no room for more players. They're trying to do it legitimately. That's why you're going to find it difficult to find a home for some of these players if they have a fire sale...
[The league] is certainly tarnished. They've brought the Gallagher Premiership into disrepute and as a result we are here talking about it at European rugby level.
That has been brought into disrepute as well because the holders of it have managed to procure their way into it via winning the Premiership.
I think it's a bit of a dark day and now is the time that Saracens need to try and get back to zero. They've been fighting to get here and that's why it's it's been dragged out.
It was always going to be messy but it could have been done a long time ago if we hadn't been lied to. That's why it's all coming out now in the wash.