It’s been a torrid few weeks to be an England and Saracens fan, a time that started with such hope saw a crowd of us rock up at Allianz Park at 8am on a Saturday morning to watch England win the World Cup.

That don’t quite go to plan as South Africa pretty much did to us what we did to the All Blacks, perhaps Warren Gatland was right and England had put in their all in that astonishing semi-final. Losing Kyle Sinckler after 2 minutes didn’t help. But the match literally personified the rugby saying – The forwards decide who’s going to win the match, the backs by how much – England were out muscled from minute one. Although I was disappointed I couldn’t feel too upset to see Siya Kolisi lift the William Webb Ellis Trophy, that was momentous for his nation.

Saracens won the match that afternoon, beating London Irish narrowly, so that, while not overly entertaining was a good thing as was lunch with good Saracens friends beforehand.

The real blow was to come a few days later with news of a 35 point deduction and a £5.3 Million fine for Saracens. The long awaited result of an investigation of the Salary Cap had produced the worst possible outcome for the club.

My initial feeling was one of disbelief, how could this have been allowed to happen? I’d felt certain that a man with the business acumen of the multi-millionaire Nigel Wray would’ve made certain all was good, above board and in line with the regulations.

The full facts of the breach aren’t known by anyone other than those carrying out the investigation, Premiership Rugby and those who need to know at Saracens. And to a great degree the facts won’t some out as they involve individuals.

That emotion of disbelief remains but added to it have been anger and disappointment too, mostly towards the club I’ve supported for 10 years, but also towards so many others

I’ve thought for a while that we live in a time of toxic media, with the likes of newspapers and various sites producing ‘click bait’ material in the extreme. And that’s driven a toxic attitude from so many who use various social media platforms.

Although this sports writing I do is just a hobby I take it very seriously and like to keep things professional, I’ve been shocked by how some of the so called professionals involved in the game have chosen to stick the boot in, the likes of Alastair Eykyn, Andy Goode and Lawrence Dallaglio seem to have almost taken pleasure in something which could well prove to be a disaster not only for Saracens but also for the game as a whole in this country.

To a great extent I haven’t been shocked by some of the bile thrown towards supporters such as me by fellow rugby supporters, they’re mirroring what they see from the media they follow. But I have been incredibly disappointed.

There seems to be a notion that us Saracens supporters aren’t real, the term ‘plastic fans’ seems to be a favourite. I object to that greatly! I’ve checked every part of my person and other than my contact lenses I can find no plastic!

A typical toxic example came from Twitter today, from an Irish rugby fan, who lives in England – Happy Heineken Cup day, everyone. safe & gastronomic travels (Not you, Saracens) – that’s plain unpleasant, happily we arrived safely in Paris today and hope to get home safely too!

My support for the club is fairly recent, just 10 years and yes, in that time they’ve gone from being a mid-table club to a champion club. My closest rugby union club, should I have walked away when they started winning? One thing that’s very certain now is that I won’t be walking away now they face some adversity.

Many of my friends have a much longer association with the club, my friend Sheila who I’m sitting next to as I write this on our way to Paris has been supporting the team for 55 years, watching her first match at Bramley Road through the fence. Many other friends have shared their stories of a long association with this club.

One of my biggest passions in the game is player welfare, therefore I take a big interest in disciplinary panel decisions, they’re an indicator of how seriously World Rugby are taking the subject in my opinion. I interact a lot in various Facebook groups and commented on one such decision to be told I couldn’t have an opinion because of the team I support. That kind of attitude is everything that’s wrong with how others have reacted to this. I and my fellow fans have done nothing wrong, we haven’t invested our own money in various companies, oh to be that wealthy! Nor have we set players salaries.

What we’ve done is support our club and everyone I know will continue to do so, please don’t insult us for the team we support, we have the same high regard for our team as you do for yours. Perhaps take a breath and think clearly before you post something scathing towards the players, employees and fans of Saracens. I’ve been lucky enough to interview Nigel Wray, he doesn’t deserve the hate being thrown his way either, his absolute passion after his family is for this club. I do have to quote Sir Clive Woodward here

Let me first declare an interest. I have known Nigel Wray a long time and like him immensely. He is a seriously good guy who has been putting his money where his mouth is since the birth of professional rugby.

In fact he is the only original club owner who has lasted the distance and his commitment has never swerved. His investment of time, effort and money in the game has been monumental.

Mistakes have clearly been made and very possibly in a big way. But hate is never a good thing, for us fans this is our hobby not our lives for those employed by the club it’s their mortgage, their everything. As a rugby community let’s do our best to remember our rugby values.

8 Comments »

  1. Thank you for putting on paper what so mang of usxare thinking Debbie. In all my time following Saracens i have nothing but the highest regard for Nigel Wray. If only there was accurate and balanced reporting that told of the incredible love of the game, the passion in promoting the game, the work in the community and the work with players whose careers are short and sometimes ended on an untimely basis. Whatever Saracens decide is the best course of action we will be there supporting them.
    Whatever the outcome i find it so sad that others who would not be where they are today have rounded against Nigel a true gentleman of the sport.

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  2. My reply Debs on Facebook:-
    Tenuous Saracens fan? Plastic fan? Absolutely!!
    .My love of the Saracens team is 100% and unashamedly driven by my 9 year old son’s love of rugby union. Watching RWC2015 Japan beat South Africa was the defining moment. Since then his devotion to his England Rugby heroes – Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Mako Vinipola & Billy Vinipola, George Kruis, Jamie George, Ben Spencer and the rest of the England / Saracens team has been a joy.
    We’ve only Sarries fans since 2015, since the demise of our local club Yorkshire Carnegie (season ticket holders), not much fun watching that, in front of no one (that’s a different thread!)
    I believe Nigel Wray has only the best interests of Saracens and rugby at heart. As a rugby fan, I’m certain he’s one of the good guys. I’m not a ”hardcore” Sarries fan, but It appears mistakes have been (seriously) made? Time will tell, once all the facts are revealed. Surely the rules are outdated? How can it be right that all these incredible players, that come through the club, are not allowed to stay at Saracens? Where’s the LOYALTY in that? Values? Can English teams compete with the French salary cap?
    I’ve taken my boys to watch Saracens at Twickenham in 3 finals, and beat the wonderful Leinster Rugby (beautiful, amazing rugby fans – the reason i love the sport!!) in the European Cup 2019 in Newcastle…..and cannot wait to visit Munster Rugby Fans Forum Munster Rugby Munster Rugby, Thomond Park, Limerick world famous Thomond Park Stadium in a couple of weeks!! I hope we’re welcomed with open arms?
    Hopefully all the vitriol that’s doing the rounds, STOPS. Where’s the love in our beautiful sport? Stop the hate Rugby fans.

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  3. Great article Debbie and puts into words how I am feeling. I have been following Saracens 47 years since playing mini rugby for them with George Sheriff coaching me. I also watched my first games through the fence but at half time came into the stand with tea and cake for my parents as they let you in for free after half time. Sarries are my club and will always support them but share your disappointment that we have fallen foul and been punished so harshly. We have still paid for our season ticket and handsomely at that so I hope the club also remember what we are going through too.

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  4. Well written article very passionate, First let me start by declaring my interests in this matter. I am an Exeter Chiefs fan what some are calling the biggest “wronged party” blah blah. I wouldn’t go that far we are unfortunate and we lost 3 big games to a better team i will shake any fan or players hand on those days and today. Personally I do not like Saracens, in the same way I’m not keen on Real Madrid or Barcelona in football I won’t actively want them to loose but I enjoy it more when someone beats them. However I bear zero ill will towards any fan, player, coach or even mascot. As for the media and even our boss getting on the kick em while they are down band wagon it’s despicable “we all knew they were up to something” …. then why didn’t you speak up at the time, “we should be awarded those titles” …. nope we didn’t win them, “We may boycott the game” … stop being a child. The only good response to the whole thing was the good humoured ribbing at Gloucester celery caps genius. I wish Sarries good fortune this season and hope you pull off survival as I do for any team. We should all be friends here this isn’t football we don’t segregate at the ground for a reason let’s not loose sight of that. Happy trails I only wish I could follow my team as much as you can follow yours. Have a safe journey and good luck.

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    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, you speak as an old fashioned sports fan, the same as me. Enjoy the rest of the season, Chiefs had a great win at La Rochelle, showing good intent in Europe

      Like

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