Even after the news of Saracens salary cap infringements broke last year few imagined we would see them relegated from the Premiership this season. They may have been handed a 35-point deduction, but this was the dominant team in English rugby.
It was assumed that they would consolidate their place in the league before returning to their regular standards in the division the following campaign.
However, they will be playing in the second tier next season after being hit with a second 35-point penalty. Saracens failed to get under the £7million cap for the 19/20 season and have accepted the decision.
Despite the club themselves now have now apologised for the 'mistakes' made, they do have at least one person still battling for their cause.
Stephen Jones has been on a bizarre crusade in recent months in insisting that Saracens did nothing wrong and the whole thing has been a witch hunt. Despite the latest development, he has doubled down on that opinion today.
In his column in The Sunday Times (which was originally headlined 'This is the end of Saracens, the greatest club team ever' before being changed), he said the decision to relegate Saracens was a damning indictment of Premiership Rugby and the other clubs in the league:
Apparently, as long as Premiership Rugby and its members got Sarries in the end, all this is subjugated, the injured innocents mere collateral damage...
Without Saracens for a season, there will be one excellent team (Exeter), three clubs improving but nowhere remotely near there yet (Gloucester, Sale and Northampton) but above all, a mid-table of inconsistent clubs who can all lose to anyone on the day.
Amazingly, he blames other clubs in the Premiership for their failure to help Saracens avoid relegation, while claiming that their financial doping never had any impact on results on the pitch:
Any players [Edward Griffiths] tried to offload held no interest for the Premiership clubs, because it suited them not to do business with Saracens.
But suddenly, Saracens were being pressed almost instantaneously to prove that they were under the salary cap for this season, which is halfway through, and to do so within days. Within days.
Their opponents realised that, under the regulations, they could not relegate Saracens. No way. So they made relegation impossible to avoid by punishing Saracens for a season half over.
You would not have to be a Saracen to find some of this reprehensible...
On a final note, I will go to my grave believing that no payment to a single Saracens player made a blind bit of difference to any match at any time. And that frankly, Saracens have just been too good.
Unsurprisingly, the article and its author have been widely bashed online.
This is a take. Let's work through this:
- Unaccounted for payments lure player X to Saracens rather than a rival.
- Saracens now have one better player than the rival due to salary cap breach
- Sarries play rival and use player X.
- They win
Original payment had no bearing? pic.twitter.com/a1SsvZ9YcR
— Sam Larner (@SamLStandsUp) January 19, 2020
— John Aitken (@johnaitken69) January 19, 2020
Stephen jones is on a different planet.🤣🤣
— Thomas Simpson (@tagandbruce) January 19, 2020
If only Stephen Jones could have told Wray sooner that paying players extra was unnecessary then this whole sorry affair could have been avoided.
— Simon Cullen (@SimonCullen20) January 19, 2020
— Stephen Killick (@SteveKills) January 19, 2020
Wonder would they still be above the cap if they took Stephen Jones off the payroll?...
— Ray Webster (@inspiRaytion) January 19, 2020
A collection of the lunacy that is Stephen Jones, that he still won’t admit that Saracens did wrong is incredible considering their implied acceptance of guilt pic.twitter.com/NnzDh7n7Cl
— Ian Alexander 🏴 (@ianalex86) January 19, 2020
Stephen Jones has lost the run of himself so much that he's suggesting Saracens' cheating will cause those most vunerable to suffer. Of course if that was to transpire, you should absolutely not blame Saracens' cheating. No, sonny. Not on my watch etc. pic.twitter.com/d89tmiWDwZ
— Paddy O'Brien (@Paddy__Paddy) January 19, 2020
You do wonder when the sports editor of the Sunday Times is going to have a quiet word with Stephen Jones
— Matthew Davies (@matthewjdavies) January 19, 2020