Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Tyrone Howe: Saracens must stay under radar now that Venter has gone cuckoo

The Heineken Cup delivers terrific action, plenty of drama, sporting theatre and moments of magic, but last Saturday provided one of the most bizarre incidents ever.

Right up there with Bloodgate in terms of jaw-dropping astonishment was the post-match interview given by Brendan Venter after Saracens lost to Racing Metro.

He specifically requested the interview and then behaved like a character out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

If you’ve seen the film you will know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, then put Jack Nicholson’s cult classic at the top of your Christmas viewing list.

Venter has ‘history’ with the ERC, but this latest attempt at making whatever point it was supposed to be, has revealed the extreme side of his character once again and caused embarrassment to many Saracens supporters.

It will not endear the club, an ostensibly South African outfit, to anyone within the establishment of either Premiership or European rugby. Saracens will have to tread carefully, as the establishment has a way of getting its own back.

One of Mark McCall’s first duties will be to mend a few bridges in the early weeks and months of his tenure.

It would be far wiser for the ERC not to take any further action. Venter did not actually say anything inflammatory and it would attract further attention to the incident and running the risk of turning Venter into an ‘antihero’ figure.

Saracens’ home defeat to Racing shuts the door on their progress in the Heineken Cup.

This incident is a sad end for Venter, who will leave the club and return to South Africa with his reputation diminished by a childish, nonsensical act which has simply made him look petulant and unhinged.

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