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Saracens have put rugby union “in a very dangerous place” after they were found to breach salary cap rules, says ex-England captain Chris Robshaw.
The Premiership champions face a 35-point deduction and a £5.36m fine after an inquiry into business dealings between owner Nigel Wray and players.
Robshaw said the European champions were “cheating to a certain extent”.
“It’s not great, the game we love is in the world eye and the pinnacle of English rugby is illegal,” he said.
Clubs cannot spend more than £7m on player salaries, although they are allowed two whose wages do not count towards the cap. Teams can also receive extra money for fielding home-grown players or to pay for injury cover.
It is claimed Premiership and European champions Saracens avoided the regulations by investing in companies co-owned by Wray and some of their star players, including England captain Owen Farrell and forwards Mako and Billy Vunipola.
Harlequins captain Robshaw said the game has “some damage control to do” as a result of the investigation.
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“It will not be easy for our sport to move forward,” the 33-year-old added.
“We’re a sport that claims to be whiter than white, and we always look down on football, we look down on this and that and say how it is but we are like everyone else.”
The fine and points penalty, which Saracens are appealing against, comes 10 years after another hugely controversial moment for the English game when Robshaw’s club, Quins, were embroiled in the Bloodgate scandal.
“As a sport, we have got to take the damage that comes with that no
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