Allianz have announced they will end their sponsorship deal with Premiership club Saracens at the end of the season.

The news comes after it was confirmed last month that the English and European champions will be relegated to the second tier next term for breaching salary cap rules.

Financial services company Allianz have worked with Sarries since 2012, with the relationship worth reportedly more than £2million a year through naming rights to the ground and shirt sponsorship.

An Allianz statement read: "Allianz has taken the difficult decision to end its sponsorship of Saracens Rugby Club and stadium at the end of this season.

"Allianz intends to continue to be involved in the great work that the Saracens Sports Foundation does in their local community and wishes Saracens well in the future."

Sarries responded with a statement of their own, which said: "Saracens Rugby Club can confirm it has agreed to end its lead partnership with Allianz at the end of the 2019-2020 season.

"The partnership was successful since its inception back in 2012, encompassing naming rights for Allianz Park stadium and the club’s playing shirts, as well as principal partner of the Saracens Sports Foundation.

"Saracens would like to thank Allianz for its support over the last eight years and the club is pleased that it has re-affirmed its commitment to the Foundation until the end of the 2020-21 season. This ensures continuity in what is such a key aspect of the club's community programme in a partnership which uses the power of sports to inspire and improve lives throughout the north London community.

"Saracens look forward to the remainder of the 2019-20 season working with the Allianz team around the club's existing games at Allianz Park as well as its showpiece fixture The Showdown at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday 28th March, where Saracens will play in Allianz's special edition blue shirt.

"Saracens look forward to working with our stable of committed Principal Partners including Nike, Hy-Pro and Simba and we would like to thank them for their ongoing support. We are also excited about developing new commercial partnerships in the coming months."

England are likely to welcome back Manu Tuilagi for the crunch Six Nations clash with Ireland next week, but Anthony Watson remains out of action.

Centre Tuilagi remained with the England squad after suffering a groin injury in the opening defeat in France, although he did not feature as the Rugby World Cup finalists bounced back against Scotland.

The Leicester Tigers star should be able to feature at Twickenham a week on Sunday, though, head coach Eddie Jones revealed.

England face Ireland, who have won two matches from two so far - beating defending Grand Slam champions Wales last week - to join France at the top of the Six Nations table.

Alongside Tuilagi, England could be boosted by a return for Henry Slade, the 26-year-old having been out with an ankle injury since December.

"Manu is looking very good," Jones told Sky Sports News. "Very promising. He should be in full training by the start of next week.

"Henry Slade ran today and we've yet to get a medical report. It's definitely promising but too early to say whether he will be alright for Ireland or not."

However, Watson - another man, like Slade, yet to feature in the campaign - is still struggling with a calf injury picked up on the eve of the competition.

"Anthony Watson is still a couple of weeks away," Jones said.

Jamie George will continue playing at Saracens next season despite the club's demotion from the Premiership.

The English and European champions have been relegated to the Championship for breaching salary cap regulations, leading to uncertainty over the future of several of the club's star names.

England hooker George is one of several internationals plying their trade at Allianz Park, but he told Sky Sports he will continue to play for Saracens in the second tier.

"I'm pretty sure I'm staying," he said.

"The details of it I'm not too sure about, but I'll be staying at the club and using it for different purposes, but I'll certainly be playing some rugby next year."

George is the first player to publicly announce he is staying put, but it was reported last month that Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, will stay after three-way talks between Sarries, England, and the British and Irish Lions.

Although unwilling to speak for his team-mates, George believes others will follow his decision.

"I haven't spoken to the other boys," he said. "My decision's been made purely from a personal point of view and I wouldn't want to speak on their behalf, but it's looking that way."

Last week, Saracens were also fined €50,000 for fielding Titi Lamositele against Racing 92 without a valid work permit but avoided expulsion from the European Champions Cup.

Wales will have to do without Owen Williams for the remainder of their Six Nations campaign due to a hamstring injury.

Initially selected on the bench for Saturday's clash with Ireland, the Gloucester back suffered the injury while warming up ahead of kick-off at the Aviva Stadium.

The 27-year-old - who can play at fly-half or inside centre - had to withdraw from the matchday squad in Dublin, Jarrod Evans taking his place among the replacements.

Wales confirmed on Tuesday that Williams will miss the rest of the tournament following further assessment, though they are yet to name a replacement.

The reigning Six Nations champions are already without fly-halves Gareth Anscombe and Rhys Patchell, while Dan Biggar was forced off during the first half of the 24-14 defeat at the weekend after failing a head injury assessment.

Wayne Pivac's side are next in action on February 22, hosting unbeaten France in Cardiff.

Wasps have revealed that director of rugby Dai Young is to step back from first-team duties for an "interim period".

The Premiership club stated on Tuesday that Lee Blackett will switch from his role as attacks and backs coach to become interim head coach.

Young was appointed by Wasps nine years ago and has since masterminded three successive play-off appearances.

The dual code former Wales prop had a successful spell as Cardiff Blues head coach before joining Wasps. 

Coventry-based Wasps are ninth in the Premiership with just three wins from nine matches.

Young's side failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup, finishing third in Pool 3.

Six Nations leaders France will be without wing Vincent Rattez for the remainder of the tournament after it was confirmed he had suffered a broken leg.

The 27-year-old sustained the injury during the closing stages of Sunday's 35-22 home win over Italy.

In the absence of Damian Penaud, La Rochelle star Rattez was a starter for Les Bleus in that match as well as their opening win over England, in which he scored a try.

Rattez confirmed on social media he had suffered a broken leg against Italy, a major blow for France after head coach Fabien Galthie initially hoped it would only be a sprained ankle.

After two home wins, France are away to Wales on February 22.

Gregor Townsend has questioned Finn Russell's commitment to playing for his country after the outcast fly-half stated he has no relationship with the Scotland head coach.

Russell did not feature in the Six Nations defeats to Ireland and England after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol" in camp before the loss in Dublin on the opening weekend.

The Racing 92 playmaker was reportedly involved in a dispute with team-mates over the amount of alcohol he had drunk in the team hotel.

Russell broke his silence in an interview with the Sunday Times, suggesting there would need to be "big changes" for him to resume his Scotland career as he took a swipe at Townsend's style and man-management. 

Townsend responded on Monday by saying Russell will have to be fully on board with standards that are expected in order to play at international level again.

He said in a lengthy statement released by Scottish Rugby: "We strive to create an environment for players to be at their absolute best when playing for Scotland. To do that players must be aligned to the high standards of being involved in team sport at an elite level.

"These standards are set out through feedback from players and staff and are driven by the player leadership group or the head coach at varying times during a campaign.

"We have players who come from around a dozen different clubs and it's really important they commit to an agreed standard of behaviour, which builds trust and is at the bedrock of a high-performance environment.

"These standards don't change for one player, even if that's not what they experience in their club setting."

He added: "Our team leaders made the decision there would be no drinking after our opening match of the Six Nations and they have been working closely with me on improving other aspects of our environment."

Townsend, who said he has "loved" working with Russell, continued: "Finn left camp on the Sunday night because of a disagreement over alcohol with fellow players and chose to miss the following day's (Monday) training and meetings. I arranged to meet with him that evening. It was a really positive meeting where we talked openly about life, rugby and what it means to play for Scotland.

"I left that meeting, after almost three hours, really optimistic that Finn would play a major part in our environment and be a committed team member. Unfortunately, things have not unfolded as well as we would have hoped.

"To play for Scotland takes total commitment. A lot of people make great sacrifices for the opportunity to represent 150 years of history and be among a special group of people who have had the honour of representing their nation.

"A lot of times, everything is not always how you'd like it to be. You might not agree with everything that is there, maybe because it's a different coach than the one you have at club level or a different way of preparing or playing. What is important is that you commit to the what has been agreed and put the best interests of the team first.

"In the Six Nations and this season we are playing teams in the top five or six in the world and the effort, planning and standards that go into preparing people physically and mentally are really important, as are the bonds that bring people together and the trust that must be created within the group.

"The door will be open to any player with the required level of ability – if they commit to being a trusted member of the team. It's been made clear that Finn could be a part of that future.

"However, he stated at the weekend that everything else has to change for him to come back, rather than accept and adhere to the standards currently being lived by the group.

"I hope this situation can be resolved but our focus is on working with the squad and building on the positive work that's gone in from the players for our first two games."

Scotland lock Jonny Gray will miss the rest of the Six Nations due to a hand injury.

The Glasgow Warriors forward was hurt during the 13-6 defeat to England at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Scottish Rugby confirmed in a statement that Gray will return to his club side for further treatment.

The 25-year-old, who started the losses to England and Ireland, will sit out the remaining Tests away to Italy and Wales and at home against France.

Gregor Townsend's side earned two losing bonus points from their opening matches.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) described reports linking Rassie Erasmus with the England job as "100 per cent inaccurate", insisting no approach has been made for the South African to replace head coach Eddie Jones.

Speculation emerged from South Africa that England were lining up Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks coach Erasmus to succeed Jones.

Erasmus, who reverted back to his position as director of rugby after overseeing South Africa's victory over England in Japan last November, attended Saturday's Six Nations clash between Jones' side and Scotland at Murrayfield.

However, the RFU distanced itself from speculation after England boss Jones ended a run of back-to-back defeats.

"The reports are 100 per cent inaccurate. There has been no meeting. There have been no talks whatsoever about any position at the RFU," said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.

Jones and England kick-started their Six Nations campaign with a 13-6 win over rivals Scotland in Edinburgh.

England now have blockbuster clashes looming against Ireland and Wales in Europe's annual six-team Test competition, which could be in line for change.

South Africa are reportedly in line to join the Six Nations after the 2023 World Cup, but Jones is against the proposal.

"It's called the greatest rugby tournament in the world and I think it is," Jones said. "So why would you want to add other teams that are going to decrease the level of competition? I can only talk from experience.

"Super Rugby was the golden egg of rugby: 12 teams, brilliant, competitive. As soon as it expanded it lost its allure. You want the best teams playing against each other.

"There's something about the Six Nations – because of the history of the relationships between the nations – that makes it outstanding. There is a lot of meaning to a lot of people for a game like this."

France wing Teddy Thomas rued lacking the pace of Usain Bolt after he failed to stop Matteo Minozzi scoring a try for Italy in their Six Nations clash on Sunday.

Thomas was the first of five France players to touch down in a 35-22 bonus-point victory over Italy at the Stade de France, latching onto Romain Ntamack's grubber kick in the seventh minute.

Charles Ollivon burrowed over on the left to give Les Bleus a 13-0 lead, but Minozzi capitalised on Thomas rushing forward and leaving space in behind to reduce the deficit.

Gregory Alldritt went over before half-time, while Ntamack and replacement scrum-half Baptiste Serin scored wonderful solo tries either side of Federico Zani's score.

Mattia Bellini got a third try for Italy but they were unable to earn a bonus point at the death as they succumbed to a 24th straight loss in the Six Nations.

Asked about his defending on the Azzurri's first, Thomas said: "I got up to close down quickly but the Italian number 10 has the right to play well.

"He managed to get out a pretty amazing pass and it was too late to turn around and get back. Unfortunately, I'm not Usain Bolt.

"It's up to me to adapt to the system."

Having beaten Rugby World Cup finalists England in their opening game, France sit top of the Six Nations standings with two wins from as many matches.

However, for the second game running they lost concentration in the second half and came under increasing pressure.

"Even if everything was not perfect, we must remember the positives. It would be pretentious not to be satisfied after a win, regardless of the opponent," said Thomas.

"It's not perfect, otherwise we would've taken 10 points from a possible 10. But nine out of 10 is still good enough.

"We are unable to say, 'We're going to win this tournament.' What we are aiming for, first of all, is to keep our discipline for 80 minutes instead of 50 or 60.

"What is really nice is that we are creating a good team spirit. It has often been said you can get bored in Marcoussis but the opposite is the case.

"We are happy to train together, happy to share moments off the field."

France made it back-to-back victories at the start of their Six Nations campaign by claiming a bonus-point 35-22 victory over Italy on Sunday.

Les Bleus overcame Rugby World Cup finalists England in their opening game at the Stade de France and saw off Italy to start with two straight wins for the first time since 2016.

Gregory Alldritt crossed on the stroke of half-time after Matteo Minozzi had reduced the arrears following early scores for Teddy Thomas and Charles Ollivon.

Romain Ntamack's superb solo try then preceded a loss of concentration from France that was punished by Federico Zani.

Replacement scrum-half Baptiste Serin sealed the win with a dazzling individual effort, with Mattia Bellini's 79th-minute score insufficient for Italy to get a losing bonus point.

After opening the scoring with a penalty, Ntamack spotted Italy full-back Jayden Hayward in the defensive line and sent a grubber kick through for Thomas to touch down in the seventh minute.

Ntamack was unable to add the extras in high winds and missed another place kick before seeing his attempt to convert Ollivon's 18th-minute try come back off the crossbar.

Italy made the most of a rare venture into France's territory, Minozzi diving over in the right corner with Thomas punished for moving out of position.

Tommaso Allan's boot reduced the deficit to three points but Antoine Dupont's sensational pass sent Alldritt in on the left, with Ntamack needing a kind bounce off both uprights for his third successful kick.

Allan missed from the tee at the end of a spell of Italy pressure, but France moved quickly from a line-out and Ntamack spotted a gap to dart home before the hour mark.

Les Bleus sent five new forwards on from the bench and Zani dived at the base of the padding around the post in the 65th minute, but Italy were unable to salvage a first point since 2018.

The tension was eased when Serin took a quick tap penalty and chased down his own kick to cross in stunning fashion.

France lost Vincent Rattez to injury and saw Bellini touch down in the right corner at the death, but it was too late for Italy to avoid a 24th straight Six Nations loss.

The exiled Finn Russell has sharply criticised Scotland's style of play and team environment under head coach Gregor Townsend, suggesting he will only represent his country again when he can see "big changes" have been made.

Russell played no part in Scotland's first two Six Nations games, having been disciplined for a "breach of team protocol" in camp prior to the opening-round loss to Ireland.

Townsend suggested earlier this week he would reassess the influential fly-half's potential involvement following Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash with England at Murrayfield, which they went on to lose 13-6.

However, the prospect of Russell making a swift return to national team duties appear remote after the Racing 92 playmaker highlighted a number of grievances in an interview with the Sunday Times.

"I'd love to play for Scotland again because I love playing for my country. But until I see or feel the big changes that I need to get back to playing my best, it's going to be very hard for me to do it," said Russell.

"The current situation, set-up and environment, I don't think I want to play in that. I don't think it’s good for me as a person or as a player. I've felt like this for more than a year, and the last three weeks have shown me that it doesn't seem to be changing at all."

Discussing Townsend, who was also previously his club boss at Glasgow Warriors, Russell added: "Eight years I've had him as a coach, and I don't really know him at all. We've not got a personal relationship.

"I want the best for Scotland and so I've questioned the environment to try and make it better. We have clashed quite a lot, him saying one thing and me saying another.

"It's come to a point where I'm saying, 'You can be you and I'm going to be me - that's how this relationship is going to be'. Well, it's not really a relationship."

In a further dig at Townsend, Russell said: "A lot our game plan last year revolved around stats and kicking, and for me, that's not rugby. Some of the meetings last year, it was like, 'What are actually trying to do here?'

"It’s hard for the other boys to say anything. They're contracted to the SRU [Scottish Rugby Union]."

Russell's breach of team protocol reportedly related to a late-night drinking session at the team hotel, but the 27-year-old insists he only had "two beers with dinner" before ordering one more in a move that apparently infuriated some of his team-mates.

"The players at dinner were like, 'No more drinking'," Russell explained. "These are guys I know well, so I said, 'What’s the problem, I've just played [for Racing], I just want a couple of beers', and they said that's what the leaders had agreed.

"I'm part of the leaders group, but they'd had the meeting before I got there. I'd not had a say. So for me, straight away, it was set up pretty poorly.

"This whole situation with Scotland has been made out to be about me wanting to have a drink, when in actual fact, it’s about control, respect and trust, on and off the pitch.

"I'm not turning my back on my country or the boys, this is a personal thing between me and Gregor. I want to be with them. But just now it's not really possible for me to be involved."

The Stormers continued their strong start to the Super Rugby season, while the Jaguares were undone late by the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Coming off a 27-0 victory over the Hurricanes, the Stormers again held their opposition scoreless, beating the Bulls 13-0.

Tries either side of half-time from Siyabonga Ntubeni and Seabelo Senatla saw the Stormers past the Bulls in Cape Town.

The Stormers top the South African Conference, while the Bulls are bottom after falling to back-to-back defeats to begin their season.

Jamie Booth's 78th-minute try helped the Hurricanes past the Jaguares 26-23 in Buenos Aires.

The Jaguares led throughout the second half and were 23-12 up with just 15 minutes remaining at Jose Amalfitani Stadium.

But Alex Fidow went over before Booth's try lifted the Hurricanes to their first win of the season, handing the Jaguares – runners-up last year – their first defeat.

The Reds suffered their second loss in as many games, going down to the Lions 27-20 as Tyrone Green scored two tries in the opening 16 minutes.

Eddie Jones was left angry with Scotland fans after a member of his coaching team was hit by a beer bottle and Owen Farrell was booed when kicking during England's Six Nations win at Murrayfield.

Neil Craig, England's head of performance, was hit by a bottle thrown from among Scotland supporters as Jones' side entered the stadium ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash on Saturday.

There was also jeering of Farrell when he kicked for goal during England's 13-6 win, which was secured thanks to Ellis Genge's solitary try during dreadful weather conditions brought on by Storm Ciara.

It was Jones' first visit to Murrayfield since a 25-13 defeat two years ago, after which the England coach received vociferous verbal abuse outside a Manchester train station the next day.

"We weren't expecting beer bottles to be thrown – that's a new trick," Jones said. "It's a pretty good achievement, throwing beer bottles. You've got to be brave to throw a beer bottle.

"Neil has a hard head, I know that, and there's not much inside it. He will be all right."

When asked if England would consider making a formal complaint, Jones said: "It's not going to do anything, is it? Everybody knows about it, so someone can do something about it. It's not good behaviour, is it?"

Jones went on to accuse the Scottish fans of lacking respect over their heckling of Farrell, who kicked eight points despite missing three penalties in the swirling wind.

"Rugby did have a culture of respect and if there is a new level of respect in Scotland then we have to put up with it. Obviously, they think there is," said Jones.

"If that's how the Scottish fans will be respectful then we have to acknowledge it and get on with it. It was an old-fashioned Calcutta Cup game with swirling wind and an aggressive crowd without manners – I thought you were supposed to show kickers respect?"

The result was just what Rugby World Cup finalists England needed following their opening-game loss to France. 

Andy Farrell feels two battling wins to open the Six Nations have Ireland "in a great place" ahead of their trip to face England at Twickenham.

Ireland saw off defending champions Wales with a 24-14 bonus-point win in Dublin on Saturday.

Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway scored as Farrell's men answered critics who had questioned them following an unconvincing opening win over Scotland.

Farrell conceded Ireland are still not at their peak but could not be happier with the base they now have to build from before facing England on February 23.

"The things that you're working on, it isn't going to come to fruition straight away," the Ireland head coach said to RTE.

"But what you want to try and see is a bit of fight and we're certainly seeing that over the two weeks - it puts us in a great place to keep building.

"Two from two and still plenty to do. It was another gutsy, gritty performance. First half we created opportunity after opportunity and we probably didn't convert as much as we possibly should have.

"I've absolutely no doubt that Wales were really pleased with the half-time result because of the strong wind and the opportunities we didn't convert, but how we managed that second half against a strong wind was really clinical.

"Our defence was superb and our set-piece tightened up. There are some good signs of what we're trying to do. I've just said to the boys that it's a great place to be, knowing what we're trying to achieve and we're nowhere near that yet.

"If you've got a foundation like that, you can build massively."

CJ Stander, man of the match for the second straight week having faced Scotland at blindside flanker and Wales at number eight, was among players to win the praise of Farrell, as did captain Johnny Sexton and his two wings.

"He was awesome, he is a guy who has come in for a bit of stick as well, but he's got two man of the matches – those performances say it all about the guy," Farrell said of Stander, who was sent to the sin-bin in the final moments of the contest.

"I've never seen a standing ovation for a yellow card before but he deserved it."

Of Sexton, Farrell added: "He's in control, isn’t he? That's what he's done all his life and that's what he does best. With the added responsibilities of captaincy, I think he's added to his game, actually.

"And Andrew Conway was outstanding. We want our wings to go at it 100 per cent and he defined that. Jacob Stockdale did the same on the other wing as well. 

"We want to play to space because we've got some really exciting backs and we like to give them one on ones. We were excellent, on the front foot in defence and attack throughout.

"We wanted to be nice and physical right through. We had some big moments last week, especially when we had to dig deep to hold on and win but here we got that intensity 100 per cent across the 80 minutes.

"We're in a great place, we had a great week's preparation and good, honest feedback from the boys in the aftermath to the display against the Scots.

"We saw an improved performance, but we all know, the coaches and the players, there is still plenty more in us even after a bonus-point win."

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