The Guinness Premiership is settling in for a shoot out as Saracens and the Northampton Saints dig-in for a tug of war over the future of Saints top-scoring prop-forward, Soane Tonga’uiha.
Lunchtime saw the Saints gleefully announcing their signing of a new three-year contract with the player, yet the Saracens who claim to have signed him themselves were swift to rebuff that claim robustly.
Saracens’ CEO Edward Griffiths said: “This situation remains remarkably uncomplicated. Soane and Saracens have signed a legal document, and the opening clause reads… ‘this document is drawn up to show the terms that have been agreed by the Club and the Player and is legally binding’. I am not sure what part of that is unclear.
“Today – April Fool’s Day – Northampton have announced they have signed a new contract with Soane. This contract is illegal and irrelevant.
“The sad reality is that a proud Premiership club has brought our game into disrepute. They have shown complete contempt for legality, justice and integrity and have made themselves look like the ultimate April fools. We must now decide whether we operate a league where signed agreements mean something and are respected, or whether we have chaos.
“Premier Rugby are planning to resolve this situation through mediation and, for the sake of club rugby in England, we look forward to a swift resolution.”
One of the hottest properties in the Guinness Premiership, Tonga’uiha is having a season to remember. As well as being the top try scoring prop in England this season – with two in the Guinness Premiership and another in the LV= Cup – he is unique by being the only man in his position to be in the league’s top 10 ball carriers and offload providers.
“I’m very happy to sign again with Saints,” Tonga’uiha said. “It has been my decision and my decision alone to stay. The success of the club over the last few months has been a big thing to be a part of and very enjoyable. The coaches and the fitness department have worked hard and this played a massive part in me deciding to stay. We’re also very settled in the area as a family, which means a lot to me as well.”
Whether Tonga’ulha gets the happy ending he desires, only time – and some expensive lawyers – will tell.