Garryowen’s banned after glass ceiling discovered

I quite like Saracens. There I said it. I like the values it subscribes to – Honesty (ok, we will come back to that), Discipline, Work Rate, Humility. Those values have delivered the club unprecedented success in recent years and its players have provided the backbone of a resurgent (ignore Saturday’s result!) national team.

But it seems, success does come at a cost. I’m just not sure that cost is entirely justified. Just look at the history of rugby in this country since the turn to professionalism in the mid-nineties.

In 2000, some ‘militants’ as the press deemed them, went on strike and refused to play for England. At the time I was appalled – like many I’d give my mothers’ right thingy to play for my country. Although I fundamentally don’t believe in downing tools, why should the RFU make millions as a result of on field success when the people who delivered that success were paid a relative pittance? The CEO drove an Aston Martin while the players drove second-hand Mondeos. In my mind there is something inherently wrong with that.

Fast forward twenty years and Saracens are being paraded as the pariahs of the national game – cheats and scoundrels the lot of them. Are they the only ones? Or are they the only ones who got caught?

I would wager anyone reading this who is my age and played, knows of a local club renowned for stuffing tenners into certain players boots. You wanted to recruit a star fly-half? Unlimited beer, pound notes, no match fees and free stash were the currency of success in those days. Funny, I never got any of those perks.

Let’s be clear. I’m not advocating cheating. I just believe we need to clear the shit off the field before we start playing on it. And in my view, you can’t want rugby to become a global phenomenon like soccer and then not reward the people that got you there. Look at what is happening right now with the row between football agents and FIFA with the capping of fees.

I don’t know Mr. Wray, but in my assessment, he seems to be a decent guy. And I do believe he did what he did to help the members of his family who delivered all that success – to reward them for their endeavours and look after them post playing. The rules precluded him from doing that legitimately, so he found another way.

Let’s put this into a business context. Imagine being part of an organisation where you consistently over deliver but you aren’t recognised or rewarded. Meanwhile the boss drives around in a new motor and flashes £50 notes in the pub. How are you going to feel?

Rugby in England has created a glass ceiling and I believe very soon it will come crashing down. You cannot demand success, push people to their limits and then not reward them when they deliver. When the rules aren’t right, you need to change the game.

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Paul Williamson
Managing Director

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