Elliot Daly has followed Jamie George's lead by signalling his intent to remain with relegated Saracens.

The English and European champions will drop down into the Championship next season after breaching the Premiership's salary cap rules.

Uncertainly surrounded several of Sarries' international stars but England hooker George became the first to commit his future to the club earlier this week.

Club and international team-mate Daly has now announced his intention to do likewise.

"My plan is probably pretty similar to Jamie. I am still in contract," said Daly, whose immediate focus remains with England and the Six Nations. 

"At the moment I am not thinking about that. It is coming but we have the rest of the season to sort it out. 

"At the moment, I am just thinking about the next couple of games with England and then when I get back to Sarries then start talking about next year."

It has been an interesting start to life at Sarries for Daly, who walked straight into the crisis at Allianz Park following England's Rugby World Cup final defeat.

However, he has no regrets about leaving Wasps, despite the off-field issues at his new club.

"My first day wasn't the best. It's a big thing and it's not to be taken lightly, but the way Saracens dealt with the players I thought was really good," Daly added.

"I didn't see this coming, but I definitely don't have any regrets joining. The way that we train, the players there, the coaching staff - it's an amazing club to be at.

"When a club like Saracens want to sign you, the best team in Europe as they were at that time, it's a no-brainer to go and play with some very good people."

Curtis Rona scored a pair of tries as London Irish secured a 29-15 derby win at Harlequins, while Premiership high-flyers Sale Sharks were brought back down to earth by beleaguered Saracens.

Irish stunned title contenders Northampton Saints last time out and followed that up with a convincing bonus-point victory at The Stoop on Saturday.

Rona laid on the opening try for Matt Rogerson in treacherous conditions and the all-action wing grabbed his first of the afternoon after brilliant work from Ben Meehan.

A Marcus Smith penalty was Quins' only score of the first half and they were 17-3 down at the break after Stephen Myler was on the target from the tee at the other end, having converted both tries.

Alex Dombrandt powered his way over to reduce the deficit, but Rona dotted down again and Ollie Hoskins bagged the bonus point after Cadan Murley helped himself to Quins' second try in west London.

Sale missed the chance to move ahead of Northampton into second spot, going down 36-22 to champions Saracens at Allianz Park after beating leaders Exeter Chiefs in their previous match.

Rhys Carre, Rotimi Segun, Nick Isiekwe and Richard Barrington touched down for Saracens, while fit-again full-back Alex Goode shone in his first Premiership match of the season.

Wasps were beaten 18-9 by fellow strugglers Leicester Tigers at the end of a week that saw director of rugby Dai Young step back from first-team duties, while Bath edged out Worcester Warriors 22-21.

Michael Fatialofa has taken his first steps as the Worcester Warriors lock continues his rehabilitation from a serious spinal injury.

The forward was injured during Worcester's Premiership encounter at Saracens on January 4 and spent four weeks at London's St Mary's Hospital.

Three of those were spent in intensive care before Fatialofa was transferred to a specialist spinal clinic at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury.

The 27-year-old posted an update on Instagram, where he can be seen on a video lifting his legs without support and taking tentative steps with the aid of hospital staff.

"Six weeks deep. Doctors didn't know me. Could be years of grinding ahead but determined to get out of this chair," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Sarries pledged to donate £1,000 for every try they score on Saturday against Sale Sharks towards his recovery, while a JustGiving page has raised almost £34,000.

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."

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.

Saracens have been fined €50,000 for fielding Titi Lamositele against Racing 92 without a valid work permit but the holders will remain in the European Champions Cup.

There were reports that Sarries could be thrown out of the competition after European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) brought a misconduct complaint against them.

The champions of Europe and England faced an independent disciplinary hearing in London on Friday as a result of Lamositele's appearance in a crunch Pool 4 clash with Racing last month, which took place a day after his documentation expired.

United States prop Lamositele came off the bench in a crucial 27-24 win at Allianz Park on January 19 but may have been ineligible due to what EPCR described as "an inadvertent administrative error on behalf of the club".

A tweet from the Champions Cup revealed that the London club have been fined €50,000, half of which is suspended until the end of the 2020/21 season.

Sarries will be relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season for breaching salary-cap regulations but could still retain the Champions Cup.

The victory over Racing saw them through to the quarter-finals, with a showdown against Leinster to come on April 4 in a repeat of last season's final.

Saracens could face more punishment after Titi Lamositele played in a crucial European Champions Cup victory over Racing 92 last month a day after his work permit expired.

The European and English champions are already facing relegation from the Premiership at the end of the season for breaching salary-cap regulations.

Sarries will face an independent disciplinary committee on Friday after European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) brought a misconduct complaint against them.

Lamositele came off the bench in a 27-24 win over Racing on January 19, but may have been ineligible due to what EPCR described as "an inadvertent administrative error on behalf of the club".

An independent disciplinary committee consisting of Roger Morris, Pamela Woodman and Jean-Noel Couraud will hear the misconduct complaint in London.

The London club face Leinster in the quarter-finals at the Aviva Stadium on April 4 in a repeat of last season's final.

Saracens were handed a 70-point deduction on Tuesday as Premiership Rugby outlined the process that would see them relegated at the end of the season.

Having already stated the reigning English and European champions would be demoted for breaches of the salary cap, league officials have confirmed how that will play out.

The humiliating fall from grace had already seen Saracens docked 35 points, and the further deduction means they are now sure to finish at the foot of the Premiership table.

The London-based team now sit on minus 77 points, despite picking up six wins from their opening nine games.

In a statement published on its website, Premiership Rugby said the January 18 ruling regarding Saracens' fate was followed by talks with the Rugby Football Union, English rugby's governing body.

New salary cap regulations published on Tuesday by Premiership Rugby show clubs will be subject to tighter regulation, with those found to have breached the senior squad ceiling of £6.4million by £350,000 or more susceptible to deductions of 70 points if they do not "fully co-operate in a timely manner" with investigations.

Regarding Saracens, Premiership Rugby said: "A further deduction of 70 points has been imposed on Saracens in the current season. This sanction is in addition to the separate deduction of 35 points imposed in November 2019 for breaches of the salary cap in previous seasons.

"The 70-point deduction ensures that Saracens will end the current season in 12th position. The league table will be updated with effect from today."

Saracens were handed a resounding 41-14 defeat by Harlequins in the absence of several key players as they returned to Premiership action for the first time since their automatic relegation was confirmed.

With seven players at an England training camp ahead of the Six Nations and Billy Vunipola out with a broken arm, Saracens – who will spend next season in the Championship after breaching salary cap regulations – succumbed to a chastening loss as the rain lashed down at Twickenham Stoop.

Quins welcomed captain Chris Robshaw back into the line-up and took the lead inside two minutes, Alex Dombrandt putting the disappointment of being overlooked by Eddie Jones aside by winning a turnover and setting up Danny Care to touch down.

Cadan Murley finished off a sweeping move in the right corner in the 11th minute and had a second try after a stunning dummy from Marcus Smith helped make it 19-0.

Alex Lozowski reduced the arrears before half-time but Gabriel Ibitoye and Paul Lasike crossed within 10 minutes of the restart to establish a 24-point cushion for Quins.

Manu Vunipola added the extras after teeing up Dom Morris for a Sarries try out wide, but Martin Landajo raced clear after intercepting the ball to round-off a bonus-point triumph that moved Quins level with fifth-placed Bristol.

Nigel Wray has taken full responsibility for the "heartache" he has caused after Premiership Rugby published a full report of Saracens' "egregious" and "reckless" breaches of salary-cap regulations.

The European and English champions were docked 35 Premiership points and fined £5.36million in November for exceeding the ceiling for payments to players in each of the last three seasons to the tune of around £2.1m over that period.

There was worse to come for the London club when it was announced last weekend they would be relegated from the top flight at the end of the season after being unable to prove they have complied with salary-cap regulations for the current campaign.

Premiership Rugby on Thursday made public how an independent disciplinary panel came to a decision to punish Saracens for the breaches in the last three seasons in a report that does not include the current campaign.

A summary of the panel's verdict stated that Sarries had "continuously and recklessly failed to comply with its obligations to cooperate with the SCM (salary cap manager)."

Sarries argued co-investments club owner Wray, who quit at the start of this month, entered into with players should not be count towards salaries but he has now accepted taking an "ill-considered approach." 

Wray said in a statement: "I am really sorry for the heartache that I have caused you [supporters] due to my ill-considered approach to matters relating to salary cap compliance. My intention with co-investments was always to support players beyond their playing careers.

"I recognise that the actions of the club were described by the panel as 'reckless' primarily due to my failure to consult with PRL's salary cap manager prior to entering into any agreements and then disclosing the transactions to him. I take full responsibility for this. We should have been far better. 

"Equally important is the panel's determination that neither the club nor myself deliberately attempted to breach the cap."

Wray revealed that property co-investments with players, a payment by a former player to himself and a club director, and the purchase of 30 per cent of a player's image rights by himself and two other directors were among the "one-off transactions" the panel considered to be undeclared salary.

Agent fees and appearances at MBN Events, owned by Wray's daughter Lucy, were also classed as undeclared salary.

Darren Childs, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said upon the release of the report: "We are pleased to be able to finally publish the full judgment on Saracens' breaches of the salary cap in the last three seasons.

"Now that everyone can see the details, the decision will show that Premiership Rugby has taken firm action to enforce the regulations and our management of the salary cap has been endorsed by the panel."

Saracens have given Premiership Rugby the go-ahead to publish the full report into how the champions of England and Europe committed repeated breaches of league salary cap rules.

The London club's new chairman, Neil Golding, said on Wednesday that Saracens are "keen" for the details to be made public, in order to bring "context and clarity" to the situation.

Premiership Rugby welcomed what it said was an about-turn from Sarries and confirmed publication will go ahead, saying it will "begin preparations" for Lord Dyson's report to see the light of day.

Golding was adamant Saracens had no objection to the report's release, but Premiership Rugby insisted the club's lawyers had previously expressed resistance "in the strongest terms".

Demotion to the Championship at the end of the current season is the grim fate that awaits Saracens, who were first hit by a 35-point deduction and £5.36million fine, later compounded by last week's swingeing second punishment.

Golding's assertion conflicted with comments from Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs, who on Tuesday said Saracens' lawyers wanted the judgement to remain confidential.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Saracens chairman Golding said: "With regards to the publication of the disciplinary panel’s full report, I am surprised by the suggestion that Saracens are objecting to the publication of the report.

"Since my appointment on 9 January, I have spent considerable time in discussions with PRL and nobody has asked me what my position is on the matter.

"To confirm, we are keen for the report to be published in full and I made PRL aware of this earlier today. It will provide much needed context and clarity."

Golding's remarks led to a swift response from Premiership Rugby, which said in its own statement: "Premiership Rugby welcomes Saracens' decision to withdraw its previous objection to publication of Lord Dyson's decision.

"These objections were stated in the strongest terms and in writing on behalf of the club by its lawyers.

"We believe that publication of the decision in respect of Saracens' past breaches of the salary cap is an important step towards upholding trust in our enforcement of the regulations and the disciplinary process.

"We will now begin preparations for release of the decision. Further details will be provided in the coming days."

Golding's latest comments included the confirmation that Saracens swallowed the bitter pill of relegation rather than allow their books to be raked over in a "full investigatory audit".

"It would be fair to say that other PRL stakeholders were sceptical about our compliance with such an audit," Golding said.

"We carefully considered the option of a full investigatory audit. However, that inevitably would have involved a long period of more financial and emotional strain and this in turn meant this was not a viable option for us.

"We therefore agreed with PRL on relegation in the hope that we could draw a line under the mistakes made by Saracens with respect to compliance with the regulations and concentrate on putting our new robust procedures in place."

England captain Owen Farrell has declared "nothing is set in stone" when it comes to his Saracens future.

After last week's dramatic announcement from Premiership Rugby that Saracens will be demoted to the Championship next season, the focus has switched to what that will mean for the club's elite players.

Years of breaching the Premiership salary cap has come back to bite Saracens, the current champions of England and Europe.

Farrell was one of seven Saracens players named in a 34-man England squad on Monday and there will be clear-the-air discussions during the team's training camp.

Rival clubs have been angered by Saracens' over-spending and England will move quickly to defuse any tensions that may exist within coach Eddie Jones' group.

Asked whether he would stay with Saracens beyond this season, Farrell said: "There's obviously ongoing chats. We have an idea of what our plan would be for the lads that are coming into camp.

"We've had a sit-down, but obviously nothing is set in stone so [I am] not in a position to talk about it, but we feel clear enough at this moment in time to get on with what's in front of us and get excited about getting to England."

Farrell was asked for his view on the punishment meted out to his club side, and told ITV Sport: "It's disappointing obviously, but as a club we've accepted the punishment and I back the club to come back from this."

England's squad were set to gather on Wednesday and Farrell, as the team's leader, will likely have a key role in making sure there are no disruptive divisions between the players given the need for unity.

Asked whether there might be issues between the Saracens contingent and players from other clubs, Farrell said: "I don't know. The best thing about this squad over the past year or so [is] we've got better at being up-front with each other.

"We've got better at being open and better at being honest, and if that's the case we'll get it out there and we'll sort it out and be able to move on.

"It'd be wrong of us not to say anything so we'll see what comes of it when we do mention it."

Farrell left no doubt he is relishing the chance to focus on England matters over the coming weeks.

After the run to the Rugby World Cup final, England will bid to dethrone Wales as Six Nations champions.

"It's massively exciting," Farrell said.

"The group that we've got is obviously a lot of people that've been together for a while now, but with some people that are hopefully going to add a lot to it.

"We want to push, we want to get better, we want to improve, and we want to see where we can take it.

"We've got to work hard and that'll be what we do now when we meet up."

Saracens' troubles will not make facing England in the Six Nations any easier, according to France captain Charles Ollivon.

France kick-start their Six Nations campaign against the Rugby World Cup finalists on February 2 at the Stade de France.

Six players who appeared in England's defeat to South Africa in Japan play for Premiership champions Saracens, who will be relegated at the end of the season due to a breach of salary cap rules.

Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola – who will miss the Six Nations due to a broken arm – and captain Owen Farrell are all regulars under Eddie Jones, yet Ollivon is not expecting any uncertainty over their club futures to impact their performances for England.

"You have to remember that England is the second-best team in the world, so I'm not sure whether it is the best time to play against them or not," Ollivon, who has been appointed as France captain for the tournament, told reporters.

"In any case, for us it will be our first game and we want to be able to perform. We want to be there and meet the expectations and get started with the championship.

"We have been preparing for it since the end of the World Cup so we're eager to get on with it."

France's initial 42-man squad includes 19 uncapped players, with coach Fabien Galthie already casting an eye to the 2023 World Cup, which will take place on home soil.

"It's a young team both in terms of age and caps," Galthie said.

"We have a two-fold vision, we have a four-year vision and then we have a shorter-term vision with the England squad for February 2.

"It's a squad that we'll have to quickly gear up to be able to perform and also to be able to raise the bar and the standards."

Wales full-back Liam Williams will miss the first game of the Six Nations against Italy but uncapped teenager Louis Rees-Zammit is expected to be fit.

Williams has not played since sustaining an ankle injury during the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall expected the Scarlets-bound British and Irish Lion to return against the Azzurri on February 1.

New Wales head coach Wayne Pivac says Williams will not feature at the Principality Stadium, but hopes he will make his comeback in a blockbuster clash against Ireland in Dublin a week later. 

"Liam is on for round two of the competition, he won't make the first game." said Pivac.

Pivac had more positive news of 18-year-old wing Rees-Zammit, who limped out of Gloucester's European Champions Cup defeat to Toulouse last Sunday with an ankle knock but could make his debut when Wales start the defence of their title.

"Louis picked up a bit of a bump last week, he's worked well with the medical team and he'll hopefully be training this morning, doing some running with the boys," Pivac said at the Six Nations launch on Wednesday.

"He'll go back to his club this weekend and then we'll get him back next week."

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones says the 2019 Grand Slam winners will need time to adjust in a new era under Pivac, who replaced the long-serving Warren Gatland after the World Cup.

The lock said: "It is going to be a bumpy road and we cannot shy away from that. There has been a lot of change and, to a point, we have to cut ties with that.

"But if you continue to look over your shoulder, you will slow yourself down. If we are going to evolve, there are a few more things to adapt to, and that is what you want to do.

"I was asked earlier about desire, and why you keep going, and I just remember why I started. I want to play rugby and I want to be involved with Wales.

"It is Wayne's world now and I am looking forward to what is to come."

Will Skelton has been banned for four weeks for a dangerous late tackle on Brice Dulin in beleaguered Saracens' crucial European Champions Cup win over Racing 92 on Sunday.

Skelton was shown a red card just before half-time at Allianz Park after his shoulder struck full-back Dulin's head.

Sarries went on to win 27-24, setting up a quarter-final at Leinster, a day after their relegation to the Championship at the end of the season was confirmed due to salary-cap breaches.

Skelton attended an independent disciplinary hearing in London on Tuesday and the Australian is set to miss the European champions' Premiership clash with Harlequins, two encounters with Sale Sharks – in the league and Premiership Rugby Cup – and a top-flight game at Wasps.

The towering 27-year-old's guilty plea, good disciplinary record and expression of remorse were taken into account when his sanction was handed out.

Skelton will be available to return against Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens on February 29.

Sarries travel to Dublin to face Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in a repeat of last year's final in the first week of April.

 

 

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