Wray reacts as Saracens slip down

Gloucester 17 Saracens 10
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The Independent Online
It's official, money can't guarantee you happiness. Saracens may have two of the world's best players but not a renewal of their membership of the top flight. Defeat at Kingsholm yesterday meant Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella will play League Two rugby next season.

It was not a good day for Nigel Wray, the multi-millionaire who is bank- rolling Saracens, but his response was predictably combative. "I think it is unfair of the RFU to pitch people out of the first division without giving them a chance to reorganise properly. Especially so because there has been no relegation further down the Courage Leagues," he said.

"Well done to Gloucester - they deserved to win and I've been mightily impressed by the support and set-up at Kingsholm. They proved themselves a true first division outfit - but that makes it even more crazy if they had gone down. We're disheartened but also very determined to come straight back up again - although, of course, a few things could yet happen behind the scenes."

His views were echoed by the Gloucester coach Richard Hill, who said: "I think it's ridiculous that a lot of top players look like being in division two next season. My old club Bath could be decimated at the end of this season because of the offers being put in front of some of their players by the likes of Richmond. With Newcastle and Saracens also looking like being in division two, I think it's a horrendous situation - quite ludicrous. In England terms, I think Jack Rowell is going to have the most difficult job in rugby next year. It could be a nightmare for him with so many top players not in division one."

An occasion riddled with tension and errors went the way of Gloucester due to their power in the primary phases. The home front five were dominant and, although Saracens' multi-talented back row ensured the result was in doubt until the final hooter, after Richard Hill claimed a sparkling try on 71 minutes, the big-spending club could have few complaints at their fate.

Sarries' forwards were caught offside at a ruck after just three minutes, Mark Mapletoft kicked the goal and Gloucester led from then on. The Londoners never stopped grafting even when Mapletoft's third penalty, seven minutes into the second half, put Gloucester 17-3 clear. Matt Singer fluffed an easy kick at goal on 10 minutes, but then landed a far tougher kick to steady the ship. It was not until four minutes from half-time that Gloucester claimed the crucial score.

Fittingly, there were front row fingerprints all over the move, before Tony Windo powerfully rounded off. The relief around the ground was tangible and not even yellow cards for Greening and Gregg Botterman, his counterpart, after a dust-up, could dampen the mood.

After Hill's try, the deficit was down to seven points and Gloucester were running on empty, but Saracens lacked the tactical nous to take advantage.

Gloucester: M Mapletoft; P Holford, D Caskie, M Roberts, M Lloyd; M Kimber, S Benton; T Windo, P Greening, A Deacon, R Fidler, D Sims (capt), P Glanville, A Stanley, C Raymond.

Saracens: M Singer; K Chesney, S Ravenscroft, D Dooley, P Harries; G Hughes, B Davies (capt); G Holmes, G Botterman, S Wilson, M Burrow, T Copsey, E Halvey, R Hill, A Diprose.

Referee: S Lander (Liverpool).

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