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Jones criticises Sarries turmoil

Eddie Jones
Jones said he would do all he could to support the players

Saracens director of rugby Eddie Jones has described this week as "the worst he has had in rugby", after a mass clear-out of players was announced.

South African Brendan Venter will replace Jones next season and wants to bring in many of his compatriots.

"I'm 100% disappointed. I wanted to build a strong club, the best in Europe," he said.

"There's never a right time for this. Culling so many of your best players has a massive effect on the club."

Saracens are now owned by a South African consortium who also have stakes in provincial sides the Sharks and the Stormers back home.

Last Monday, they told 15 of Saracens' 38 senior players that they would be released at the end of the season, while some Sharks and Stormers players have already been approached about moving to Saracens.

"I've never seen anything like it," continued Jones, who announced earlier this month he would leave the club at the end of the season.

"Some of the guys have been in tears all week, and yesterday there was a meeting with lawyers. But I've told the players I am fighting their corner, and my job is to leave the club in the best shape I can. I guarantee I will."

A week of turmoil at Vicarage Road ended on a positive note, as they beat second-placed Sale 24-23, but Jones was quick to deflect any praise.

"The senior players have been fantastic in pulling the guys together - I take no credit," he said.

In the match programme Saracens chief executive officer Edward Griffiths admitted it had been a difficult week, but said: "I believe it will prove to be the darkest day before a genuine, bright and lasting dawn."

He called on fans to support the team "as never before" and told them: "The club is implementing a concerted business plan to transform itself from a perennially mid-table outfit losing in excess of 2m every season into a club that achieves sustained success on the field and moves towards commercial viability off the field."

Chairman Nigel Wray added: "At the moment the game of rugby is essentially split into two, the RFU who make a very substantial profit despite a burgeoning bureaucracy and the Premier League clubs who make a very substantial loss i.e. something is going wrong here.

"We have to make Saracens sustainable otherwise sooner or later the model will break, as indeed it will for everyone else."

Venter has told Afrikaans newspaper Sondag he is not trying to poach players from South Africa, but to "create a rugby home for South Africans" in England.

"I only took the work as director of rugby because I see it as a challenge to create a team that will be supported by South Africans abroad," he said

"There is so much young South African rugby talent in England at the moment and I believe we can create a team which they can identify with and I hope to make Saracens that team."

But he also said players would only be chosen on talent, and not because of nationality.

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see also
Saracens 24-23 Sale
01 Mar 09 |  English
Saracens players shocked at exits
26 Feb 09 |  Saracens
Saracens plan massive clear-out
25 Feb 09 |  Saracens
Saracens to stay at Vicarage Road
19 Feb 09 |  Saracens
Jones to take up post in Japan
09 Feb 09 |  Saracens

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