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Sarries sorry for Borthwick absence

Saracens have apologised to European Club Rugby for Steve Borthwick's failure to attend Monday's Heineken Cup launch.

Borthwick was told by Saracens to skip the event in order to participate in a team-bonding session at a beer festival in Munich. The 30-year-old was the only missing representative from the coaches and captains of the 12 English, Welsh and Scottish clubs attending the tournament launch at the Millennium Stadium.

ERC were angered by his absence and could issue Saracens with a 5,000 euro (£4,246) fine. But Edward Griffiths, the club's chief executive, hopes the matter is brought to a swift resolution.

Griffiths said: "The decision that Steve Borthwick should attend a pre-arranged squad function was entirely the club's decision and nothing to do with Steve.

"Nobody can doubt the professionalism and commitment of perhaps the most professional and committed player in the country.

"The clash of dates was unfortunate but, at the eleventh hour, we rationally decided it was more important for our captain to take part in a long-arranged and highly-significant squad event than to attend a press conference where he was not nominated to be formally interviewed and from which his non-attendance became the main story.

"Our total commitment to this year's Heineken Cup competition is writ large across every billboard in London promoting our match against Leinster at Wembley on October 16th.

"It's unlikely any club has ever embarked on such a marketing campaign for a group fixture.

"We look forward to resolving this matter with ERC and playing our full part in a successful competition."

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