Europe worries about an under-committed Saracens

Marseille (AFP) –


Organisers of rugby's European Cup expressed concern on Wednesday that the 35-point English Premiership penalty handed to Saracens will affect the holders' appetite to defend their crown.

Saracens, who were also fined £5 million ($6.5 million) for breaching the Premiership Rugby salary cap over several seasons, have launched an appeal but face a stiff task to retain their place in the Premiership in England.

"Our concern rests in their capacity to put everything into the European Cup knowing that they will have to fight all the way to avoid relegation," said Vincent Gaillard, director general of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) at an event in Marseille to showcase the venue for the 2020 final.

Saracens, who also won the Premiership last season, beat Irish province Leinster in the 2019 final to win Europe's top trophy for the third time.

"Perhaps other clubs will be happy that they are going to be a bit wounded but it's not good news for us," said Gaillard.

"We would prefer that they are thoroughly behind the competition."

"An appeal is underway, this is only the start of the story, we don't know yet what the impact will be on the club."

Gaillard insisted that the penalty handed out to Saracens would not affect their European honours.

"Just as they won't lose their English titles nor will they be stripped of their three previous European titles," he said.

Saracens begin the defence of their title at Racing 92 in Paris on Sunday.