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Saracens set to appeal as controversial Covid ruling stops them topping English Championship table

Saracens are considering appealing a ruling that denied them the chance to finish top of the Championship.

The former European champions are set to appeal against the Championship disputes committee’s decision to rule their postponed game with Hartpury due to an COVID outbreak as a draw without any league points awarded.

A bonus-point win with a margin of at least 12 points would have let Saracens jump above Ealing Trailfinders into top spot at the end of the regular season of the truncated Championship.

Despite now looking likely to finish second to Ealing, it could all be rather inconsequential in terms of Saracens’ bid to returning to the top flight after being relegated last season for salary cap breaches.

While the committee decision does not affect which sides will play the two-leg promotion play-off battle, it does mean that it will be Ealing, rather than Saracens, who are now set to determine the order of the home and away legs as the first-placed side.

Saracens issued a statement confirming they could challenge the ruling, saying: “There is a right to appeal. As a club, we will consider our options, and have until 11th June to appeal the decision should we decide to proceed. All ticket purchasers for the scheduled Saracens v Hartpury University RFC game on 29th May will receive a full refund with the process expected to take between 7 to 10 working days.”

Hartpury have no plans to appeal and, having completed their campaign, said: “Hartpury does not intend to appeal this decision. This does mean that the 2021 season is now over for ourselves and the majority of the 11 clubs who participated in the shortened campaign. We would like to send our best wishes to both Saracens and Ealing Trailfinders, who will contest the play-off final for the right to appear in the Gallagher Premiership next season.”

Announcing their ruling, Championship organisers said: “The Committee concluded that the match should be considered as a 0–0 draw, with no league points awarded to either team.

“In light of the facts, the Committee considered Hartpury University RFC were not at fault for the cancellation of the fixture and noted that the only reserve weekend available for the Championship is 5th – 6th June. Hartpury University RFC confirmed they were not able to play that weekend as players still isolating under COVID-19 protocols and some injuries mean the club is unable to field a squad.

“While the positions of the clubs in the league table was not considered to be a relevant factor in determining the outcome of the cancellation, it was noted that the effect of the decision would not undermine the integrity of the competition.”

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