Mako Vunipola says he has no regrets at getting involved in one of the “co-investment” ventures that led to the downfall of his club Saracens – and would do so again.
The Londoners were condemned to relegation after a disciplinary report found that their owner, Nigel Wray, broke the rules by entering into investments worth £1.3 million with a handful of his stars.
There is no suggestion these players, who include Mako and younger brother Billy, were complicit in any of the club’s actions, nor knew anything about the salary cap violations that took place.
The older Vunipola admitted that the past three months had been the worst of his professional life, but said: “For us there are no regrets at all.
“If I had the choice to do it again, I would do it again knowing what has happened.
“That is no slight at not caring about what has happened to the club, more the fact that I know rugby is important but our careers are short and I want to look ahead a bit.”
Vunipola, 29, said he got involved not for one moment thinking any line had been crossed or that the arrangement could blow up in the club’s face.
“Nigel came to us and kind of presented the opportunity,” he revealed. “He understood that we were looking to further on in our futures.
“As rugby players our careers aren’t that long. Any opportunity that can help or sort a little bit of our future after rugby we’re more than willing to look into.
“That was our thinking when we first invested with Nigel and that’s not changed. It’s business as usual. In terms of Nigel, he’s still there and backs us.”
Which is not to say Vunipola, who spent yesterday at Twickenham with team mates preparing for next Sunday’s Six Nations clash with Ireland, is not pained by the turn of events.
“It has not been comfortable,” he confirmed. “But probably it's been more difficult for friends and family who hear and read all this stuff.
“For us as rugby players, we deal with it every day and it is something we are used to. But when people are saying stuff about you and you have family that care about you, it effects them.”
He added: “You obviously think about the worst case scenario straight away, but you don’t think it is imminent or definitely going to happen.
“The day we first got told about the 35-point deduction was a low. But the day they announced we were definitely relegated was the lowest. That was devastating.”
Vunipola stopped short of committing his future to Saracens beyond the summer and hints at the end of an era, with the last hurrah being their Champions Cup defence which has reached the quarter-final stage.
“For us as a team,” he said. “We will just try and enjoy the time that we have together.”
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