Mako Vunipola has ‘no regrets’ over business deal with former Saracens chairman

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent

Mako Vunipola has no regrets over entering the business arrangements that contributed to disgraced Saracens’ relegation from the Gallagher Premiership.

The fallen English and European champions have been docked a total of 105 points to ensure they are demoted to the second tier as punishment for repeated breaches of salary cap regulations.

Vunipola was the recipient of £450,000 that was paid by owner and former chairman Nigel Wray into Vunprop, a company joint owned with his younger brother Billy, with the purpose of buying a house.

The report on the investigation into the breaches for the last three seasons also showed that they received interest-free loans for home renovations.

Nigel Wray (right) is the former chairman of Saracens (Mike Egerton/PA).

Wray had entered into property investments with a number of players, claiming that investment is not salary, but the independent panel chaired by Lord Dyson viewed the payments as a way of circumnavigating the £7million salary cap.

Asked if he regrets entering into the arrangements, Vunipola said: “No regrets at all. If I had the choice to do it again, I would do it again knowing what has happened.

“That’s no slight at not caring about what has happened to the club, more the fact that I know rugby is important and our careers are short and I want to look ahead a bit.

“It’s business as usual. In terms of Nigel, he’s still there and backs us. For me and my brother he’s allowed us to just focus on the rugby.”

Vunipola, who along with his Saracens team-mates is exonerated of any blame for the salary cap infringements, never envisaged his co-investment with Wray would have such far-reaching repercussions.

“No, not in the slightest. Nigel presented the opportunity to us and as rugby players our careers aren’t that long,” the England prop said.

“Any opportunity that can help or sort a little bit of our future after rugby, we’re more than willing to look into it. That was our thinking when we first invested with Nigel and that’s not changed.

“He came to us (with the investment), but he also understood that we were looking for further on in our futures and not just in rugby.

Jamie George has committed his future to Saracens (Adam Davy/PA).

“It’s not been a comfortable three weeks, but probably it’s been more difficult for friends and family who hear and read all this stuff. It has been difficult for them.

“When they announced we were definitely relegated that was probably the lowest.”

Jamie George is the only member of Saracens’ England contingent to commit his future to the club for their season in the Championship, but Vunipola is less certain of what lies ahead.

“Right now I don’t really know. Some things need to happen before I can say I’m definitely staying,” Vunipola said.

“There’s things aren’t in my control but hopefully it get sorted sooner rather than later.”