Venter refuses to back down over Tonga'uiha
April 3, 2010
Saracens boss Brendan Venter confronts the officials following his side's defeat against Gloucester at Kingsholm © Getty Images
Saracens coach Brendan Venter fully expects prop Soane Tonga'uiha to turn up for pre-season training with his team this summer.
Venter insists that Northampton have no call on the Tongan front-row man following a bitter row between the clubs last week. Saracens say Tonga'uiha has signed a "legally binding" contract with them, but Northampton have re-signed him on a three year deal.
Premier Rugby, the representative body of the English top-tier clubs, have called a meeting next week between the two clubs to clear the matter up. After Saracens lost 29-28 to Gloucester in a breathtaking Guinness Premiership clash at Kingsholm on Saturday, Venter said, "He has a legally binding contract. I don't know what all the fuss is about.
"If you have got a contract, then you have a contract - it's as simple as that. We start on the fifth of July and I expect him to be there. That's the way I understand it which is why I have not interfered. I can't see it being any different. Three months ago, he was unbelievably keen to come to Saracens. He was telling us how much better we were than Northampton."
On the field, Venter was also not too pleased about the way the match went. He added, "Every single decision went against us. We missed four kicks and we were going to win that game comfortably. When we kept the ball in hand, we looked great. And I have said to the guys down there (in the changing rooms), with that kind of rugby we can genuinely win the Premiership. We did not get one call from the referee, one call from the touch-judge, we missed four kicks at goal but that is how rugby works and sometimes you lose those games."
Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath praised his side after they completed three Premiership games in eight days which included defeat at Newcastle on Wednesday. And he had special praise for 19-year-old Freddie Burns, who kicked 19 points.
"We got in front at 29-18 and I thought we had done enough," said Redpath, watched by British Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan who is helping with some coaching advice at Gloucester. "Credit to Sarries, they came back. Two of the tries we let through were poor so I was disappointed with that but delighted with the boys' effort. Playing three games in a week is not easy and the disappointments of Wednesday night, to come back from that was huge for us. The game was not about being pretty, it was about doing the basics well and the biggest criticism from me was that we didn't do the basics right when today that is what we needed."
As for Burns, a fly-half used at full-back, he added: "For 75 minutes, I thought he was very good. For someone who has not been a renowned full-back, I think his goal-kicking was great. "In that respect, I'm chuffed for Freddie. He had a knee in the back on Wednesday and had to come off at half-time. So to front up again three days later was great."