Saracens hit back over Venter ban

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The Independent Online

Saracens today continued their counter-attack following a 14-week touchline ban imposed on the club's South African rugby director Brendan Venter.

Venter will not be allowed to have any contact with his team during the Guinness Premiership final against Leicester at Twickenham on Saturday week.

He has been suspended until August 24 after being found guilty by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel of making provocative or inappropriate gestures towards spectators during Saracens' Premiership victory over Leicester 11 days ago.

Venter received a 10-week ban, while a suspended four-week sentence imposed earlier this season for a different offence was also activated.

Panel chairman Judge Jeff Blackett said: "We were disappointed that he didn't understand the seriousness of what occurred.

"His behaviour was clearly unacceptable in provoking a reaction from the Leicester supporters which required steward intervention and, even after that intervention, he continued making provocative/inappropriate gestures.

"This type of behaviour is totally unacceptable in rugby, and we reminded him of the core values of the sport, which include respect for the opposition in all its forms."

Saracens, however, while reaffirming their intention to appeal the verdict and suspension "as soon as possible", have hit back.

"The RFU rightly upholds the core values of the sport, which include respect for the opposition at all times," said Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths.

"Where was the respect for Brendan?

"He is given a seat with a restricted view, he stands only so he can see what is happening on the field and he is abused by home supporters.

"In response, he does not swear at anybody, he does not make an obscene gesture at anybody, he does not lose his temper - and yet is now denied the right to coach his team at the final.

"We will appeal against the verdict and sentence as soon as possible."

Saracens hope that appeal will be heard before the final, which they have reached for the first time following their thrilling victory over Northampton last Saturday.

Blackett, meanwhile, rejected the charge Venter had pushed a female spectator during the game at Welford Road.

Speaking last night, Griffiths said: "The charge was summarily dismissed, although we will still be asking the RFU to explain why they levelled and publicised the charge before giving either Brendan or the club the chance to offer our version of events.

"This process needs to be revised."

Under the terms of Venter's ban, he will be allowed to play a full part in Saracens' preparations for the final, but have no involvement with the team on match-day.