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Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Brendan Venter will leave Saracens role

Brendan Venter
Venter led Saracens to the Premiership play-off finals last season

Saracens' director of rugby Brendan Venter is to step down and return to his native South Africa at the start of next year.

Chairman Nigel Wray said Venter, who joined Sarries in 2009, will become technical director from 9 January.

"Brendan, Anneme and their children are returning to South Africa in January for family reasons," he explained.

First-team coach Mark McCall will take over Venter's role, while backs coach Andy Farrell will replace McCall.

"As a club very much based on family values, we respect their decision and wish them well," Wray added.

"Mark and Andy will take over the day-to-day running of the team, but Brendan will remain an integral part of the club, as technical director, making frequent visits to north London."

Venter's 16-month spell at Sarries has been as successful as it has controversial.

The former centre led the north London club to the play-off finals last year, where they were beaten by Leicester.

But a series of disciplinary issues have tarnished his Saracens career.

He was handed a suspended four-week match-day ban by the Rugby Football Union after criticising a referee in a defeat by Leicester in January.


Then he received a 14-week ban, later reduced to 10 weeks, for "making provocative and inappropriate gestures" during another match with Leicester on 8 May.

And in November he was hit with a £21,850 fine, £13,100 of which is suspended until June 2012, after being found guilty of misconduct by European Rugby Cup.

Venter, who is a qualified medical doctor, was reprimanded for saying the ERC had not prepared its referees well enough to deal with new interpretations of the breakdown area.

We would like to thank Brendan for his outstanding contribution through the past two seasons, establishing a culture of honesty, discipline and work ethic

Saracens chairman Nigel Wray

After watching his side lose their Heineken Cup Pool Two encounter with Leinster at Wembley on 16 October, he told the press: "Before the Heineken Cup began, I asked if we would have a conference so all the officials from abroad were in tune as to the new interpretations of the laws.

"Instead, we got some European referees in the Premiership, but there is a real danger that if we don't take action going into a World Cup year, the game of rugby is going to die, be killed stone dead, because the public won't come to watch."

Wray moved to praise the former London Irish coach's influence at Saracens, and looked forward to Irishman McMall's promotion to director of rugby.

"We would like to thank Brendan for his outstanding contribution through the past two seasons, establishing a culture of honesty, discipline and work ethic that is now enshrined within the DNA of our club, and we look forward to his continuing involvement in the months and years to come," he added.

"Equally, we are delighted to appoint Mark McCall as director of rugby.

"He has played a crucial role in our recent success and, with his high-level experience at Ulster and Castres, is ideally equipped to maintain this progress.

"He will lead an outstanding group of coaches, including Andy Farrell, Paul Gustard, Alex Sanderson and Dan Vickers, and Scott Murphy as high performance director."

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see also
Venter hit with misconduct fine
04 Nov 10 |  Saracens
Saracens and RFU row over Venter
21 May 10 |  Saracens
Saracens boss Venter handed ban
18 May 10 |  English
Guilty Venter has ban suspended
20 Jan 10 |  Saracens
Venter faces RFU ref blast probe
03 Jan 10 |  Saracens
Refs killing rugby, fumes Venter
02 Jan 10 |  Saracens

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ESPN Star Rugby: Venter to leave Sarries role - 17 hrs ago
London Evening Standard Brendan Venter: Clashes with the authorities have not forced me out - 26 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland Eurosport Aviva Premiership - Venter to take backseat at Saracens - 37 hrs ago
Mail Online UK Saracens shocked as Brendan Venter quits as director of rugby - 39 hrs ago
Reuters UK Rugby-Venter to step down as Saracens' director of rugby - 41 hrs ago


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