Saracens chairman Nigel Wray has announced he will retire with immediate effect.
Wray’s decision comes two months after an investigation by Premiership Rugby found Saracens had breached the salary cap for the three seasons running from 2016 to 2019, and enforced a 35-point deduction and £5.36m fine.
The fallout from the punishment has seen the legitimacy of Saracens’ two Premiership titles during that period questioned.
Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said, ‘If you’re asking me would I like to walk into Sandy Park and see three Premiership trophies there, I would love to’ after the Devon club finished as runners-up to Saracens in two finals.
With the acrimony surrounding the scandal still prevalent, Wray has not travelled to away matches.
In the days following the 14-7 defeat to Exeter at Sandy Park, the 71-year-old has taken the decision to step down after more than 25 years as the club’s principal backer.
In a statement released by Saracens on Thursday, Wray said: “As we enter a new year, a new decade, it is time for the club to make a fresh start.
“I am not getting any younger and feel this is the right moment for me to stand down as chairman and just enjoy being a fan of this incredible rugby club.
“I will always be committed to the wonderful Saracens family.
“The Wray family will continue to provide the required financial support to the Club, and I will remain actively engaged in the work of the Saracens Sport Foundation and Saracens High School, as part of the Club’s ongoing commitment to our community in north London.”
With Wray’s retirement, the new person stepping in to the helm is none other than Ed Griffiths, who returns as interim chief executive.
Griffiths, who was in charge of the SARU at the time of the transformative 1995 Rugby World Cup, played a central role in the rise of Saracens following the purchase of a stake by a South African-based consortium which included Africa’s richest man, Johann Rupert.
Leading to the signings of Schalk Brits, Neil de Kock and Brad Barritt as part of a large South African contingent at Saracens, the team grew to be formidable and clinched a maiden Premiership title in 2011.
Griffiths returns after leaving Allianz Park in 2015 as interim chief executive.
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