Bracken signs with new-look Saracens

Rugby Union
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The England scrum-half Kyran Bracken will be playing alongside the Frenchman Philippe Sella and the Australian Michael Lynagh at the new-look Saracens.

Bracken has left Bristol after failing to meet a deadline, set by the club, to sign a one-year contract after verbally agreeing to it a couple of weeks ago.

Saracens are unwilling to disclose details of Bracken's contract but the club's chief executive, Mike Smith, said: "We hope it will be a long relationship. Bracken is a very talented player and he believes his best chance of regaining his place in the England side is with us."

Bristol had set a limit of 5pm last Thursday but then withdrew the offer when the 24-year-old trainee solicitor failed to sign. In a statement, the Bristol club said: "Several weeks ago at a meeting with chairman Derek Brown, director Adrian Miles and director of coaching Alan Davis, Bracken verbally agreed on all the conditions for a one-year contract.

"Subsequent delays in obtaining a signature to this contract resulted in the deadline being set by the club. That time having passed, the offer was withdrawn and we are now informed that the player has signed for Saracens.

"In this new professional era such situations have become common but it is none the less disappointing for the squad to lose someone who had committed to them.

"Bristol is determined to maintain a first-class squad but will not jeopardise the well- being of the majority for the benefit of a few."

Bristol are actively seeking a replacement, having anticipated the possible loss. Another of their scrum-halves, Ben Harvey, recently joined another London club, Richmond.

Bracken, who has just started a holiday abroad, also had talks in the past week with Bath but decided his best option was with Saracens. Bracken made his Bristol debut in April 1990 and made the first of his 11 appearances for England against the All Blacks in November 1993.

The capture of Bracken is another indication from Saracens that their desire to become one of the leading clubs in England shows no sign of abating. After initially thinking that they could thrive in the professional era with only a few key signings, Saracens' aim now is to acquire an entire team of them.