Sorry Saracens sweat on ERC decision

SARACENS say they are yet to hear from Heineken Cup chiefs after captain Steve Borthwick controversially skipped the competition’s launch in order to join his team-mates at the Munich beer festival.

The Premiership club yesterday issued a public apology, insisting the decision had been taken by management rather than Borthwick himself and reaffirming their “total commitment” to the tournament. That looks unlikely to be enough to avoid a £4,250 fine from European Rugby Cup, however, who expressed their disappointment at the player’s absence from Monday’s event.

Yet a club spokesman told City A.M. last night that no contact had been made by ERC. It is thought they may now wait until November before meeting to discuss the matter.

Former England captain Borthwick, right, was the only representative of the 12 teams not to attend the appointment in Cardiff. Instead he was with his squad in Germany on a team-building trip of the kind that the club place great importance on.

City A.M. understands that although the visit to Munich was arranged three months ago, Saracens knew of the Heineken Cup launch eight weeks ago. However, club chiefs left it late before deciding Borthwick’s presence at the bonding exercise was paramount.

Chief executive Edward Griffiths said: “The decision that Steve Borthwick should attend a pre-arranged squad function was entirely the club’s decision, and nothing to do with Steve. Nobody can doubt the professionalism and commitment of perhaps the most professional and committed player in the country. The clash of dates was unfortunate but, at the 11th hour, we rationally decided it was more important for our captain to take part in a long-arranged and highly significant squad event than to attend a press conference where he was not nominated to be formally interviewed.”