Saracens 24-9 Newcastle, Aviva Premiership, March 27
Wray slams RFU for Super Rugby clash
March 27, 2011
Saracens centre Brad Barritt is hauled to the ground during the Premiership clash © Getty Images
Saracens chairman Nigel Wray hit out at the Rugby Football Union for scheduling the Super Rugby game at Twickenham on the same day his side kept up the pressure at the top of the Aviva Premiership with a 24-9 win over Newcastle.
Tries from James Short and Jared Saunders sealed victory following a rusty display from a Saracens outfit that were playing at their Vicarage Road home for the first time in five weeks. With such a long time between home gates Wray was critical of the RFU for agreeing to stage the Crusaders-Sharks - which was moved to Twickenham following last month's devastating earthquake in Christchurch - and provide direct competition for the domestic game.
Wray went even further declaring the season's fixturing "a shambles" and the RFU unfit to regulate the game. "How can you have the RFU as the regulator of the game, the person who, if you like, tells you when you can open shop for business when they are also a competitor," he said.
"They run competitive games as indeed can be seen today when without a word or thought for the Premiership clubs, they organised at Twickenham a competing fixture involving Canterbury from New Zealand. Well, why not hold it on an international weekend? Competition is fine, of course, but you cannot be the regulator as well. I understand that the charity aspect is a factor, but £5 from every £40 ticket?
"This is our first home game since playing Leeds on February 20. That's five weeks, what a way to run a business. Can you imagine if Harrods told their customers they were closing for five weeks? Surprise, surprise, those customers would all go to Selfridges.
"The season is a shambles. Competitions collide with each other; we switch from one to the other never finishing any one competition off."
Saracens rugby director Mark McCall was less than excited by his team's performance despite the fact the victory keeps them in second place and hot on the heels of reigning champions and Premiership leaders Leicester.
"That was very frustrating, a poor spectacle and I'm disappointed," said McCall. "We put more than 50 points on Newcastle in this fixture last season so give them credit for improvement with a number of young players on board. But we'll need to address the way we played during the week before taking on Bath at home next Sunday."
Newcastle boss Alan Tait seemed more cheerful in defeat than McCall was in victory. But he did reserve harsh words for his experienced number 8 Ally Hogg, whose sin-binning in the second half gave Saracens a crucial numerical edge.
"At 11-9 midway through the second half we were in with a shout," Tait said. "But if we are to go forward as a club we need to learn from what happened afterwards when we finished up without even a losing bonus point.
"Some of the boys gave their all. I asked them to make an impact and they did which is why, despite losing, I see reasons to be cheerful. We got no decisions at the scrum which is disappointing, but even more disappointing was Hogg's yellow card. He shook my hand afterwards, apologising, but I told him he owed the boys one.
"It was a really stupid act to grab the scrum-half; it was needless and proved so costly at a crucial stage in the game reducing us to 14 men for a very costly period. I watched us really crumble here last year, but this group of lads dug really deep and although we are facing a real battle between now and the end of the season, their showing tremendous character."
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