(M+D Archive) Saracens, and the Ethics of Cheating

The biggest scandal in the history of rugby, at least here in what we call the Home Nations is rolling onwards, and with a huge development over the weekend. Saracens rugby club, winners of multiple recent trophies at home and in Europe have accepted automatic relegation from the Premiership as punishment for their repeated breaches of the salary cap imposed by the league. But this does not end here, the consequences will roll on, to Leinster next, where Saracens play in the European Cup, and to the Championship where Saracens will play next week, and out into rugby as a community.

We all have a fundamental, built in idea of fairness. A sense of what is right and wrong in terms of equal competition and a notion of what we often call fair play. We know unfairness when we see it, even if it's unclear how something is unfair, or what the details are. The details of Saracen's cheating are not clear. But he fact of it, and the sense of it are very clear indeed. The club unfairly broke regulations on salaries, giving themselves an advantage in the acquisition of, and retention of players. They used that advantage to win, and to win big, leaving a long list of vanquished opponents in their wake. Opponents who couldn't be sure, but must have suspected something was up with the level of talent that their vanquishers managed to keep and add to year on year. The extent of the co-investments, property deals and whatever else was happening isn't yet known, but the outrage that has been simmering for months has exploded. Me And The Dog talks about Saracens, and the many tendrils of poison they have woven through English and European rugby, for years.

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Ev Buckley