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Venter to miss final after losing RFU appeal

SARACENS director of rugby Brendan Venter will be banned from the touchline for his side’s Premiership final against Leicester on Saturday after losing his appeal against a 14-week ban last night.

The South African was handed the punishment by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel last week for “making provocative and inappropriate gestures” during the league match against the Tigers on 8 May.

Venter’s sentence, however, was reduced from 14 weeks to 10 by the three-man independent appeal panel to allow Saracens to start afresh next season. “The panel was impressed by Dr Venter’s appeal for assistance with his conduct in the future and his desire to avoid future clashes with the authorities,” an RFU statement read.

“We considered that the appeal against conviction had no merit but have reduced the sentence to allow Dr Venter and Saracens the opportunity to put this matter behind them and start next season with a clean slate.”

Saracens, meanwhile, have insisted they welcome a decision by Watford FC to execute a “break clause” in their ground share agreement, which could spell the end of their playing days at Vicarage Road.

Sarries have played at Watford’s ground since 1997, but although the current deal lasts until 2017, the Hornets have issued the clause in order to spark discussions for a longer-term strategy.

Chief Executive Edward Griffiths said: “Two realities are clear, first, we will be playing home matches at Vicarage Road in the 2010/11 season, second, we now have three months to conclude our ongoing discussions with Watford and decide whether or not we will continue to play at Vicarage Road beyond next season. We will continue to explore various options.”