Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sarries' Soul Will Remain English, Insists Venter; New Coach Speaks about Takeover for the First Time and Vows the Club Won't Become a South African Franchise. by Chris Jones; EXCLUSIVE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sarries' Soul Will Remain English, Insists Venter; New Coach Speaks about Takeover for the First Time and Vows the Club Won't Become a South African Franchise. by Chris Jones; EXCLUSIVE

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

BRENDAN VENTER today broke his silence and dismissed as "absurd" claims that Saracens are now a South African franchise operating in English rugby.

The former Springbok centre, who enjoyed success as a player and coach with London Irish, will formally take over his role as the new director of rugby at the club on 1 July.

He replaces Eddie Jones, the ex-Wallabies coach, who quit the Guinness Premiership outfit in February over the direction they were taking following a [pounds sterling]6million cash injection from SAIL, a South African investment company that owns 50 per cent of the club.

Venter (below) met the Sarries squad three months ago and with up to a dozen told they did not feature in his plans, speculation grew that the way was being cleared for an influx of South African players aimed at attracting expats who live in the south-east to watch the team.

Sarries are lining up Premiership matches at Wembley next season and are also interested in using Craven Cottage to stage games. The players -- those leaving -- and long suffering fans have expressed serious concerns over Venter's actions but the man himself is adamant he is not a wrecking ball.

The 39-year-old, who is also a qualified general practitioner, said: "I think that at last sanity has prevailed and people have realised just how absurd the things that were being said really were. It was claimed a total takeover was happening and that was never the object of the owners.

"That's why I didn't say anything at that time because there is no point trying to convince the critics but now people can see how the squad are shaping up and that the coaching staff didn't change after Eddie Jones left.

"Acting head coach Richard Graham has got a fantastic appointment with the Wallabies but everyone else is staying.

"It wouldn't have made any difference how many times I had come out and said, 'Trust me, it's not going to be like that', critics wouldn't have believed me. …

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