ANGER at Saracens’ flagrant breach of English rugby’s salary-cap rules, initially confined to their own country, has now become far more widespread, and understandably so. It emerged last week that the London club will be relegated at the end of this season as they will inevitably break the cap again, but for the time being they continue to enjoy success on the field, and on Sunday qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup, a trophy they hold.

At best, this appears to go against natural justice. Saracens have been punished in England for breaking the rules by assembling their current playing squad at great expense, yet in Europe they continue to profit by doing so.

This situation is perhaps particularly galling for Glasgow Warriors fans, who saw their own club’s hopes of a last-eight place ended when Saracens beat Racing 92 on Sunday.

Granted, there is no salary cap in the Champions Cup, so Saracens have not broken the regulations in that tournament. Yet there is no denying that, had they conformed to the rules in their own domestic competition, they would never have been able to put together a squad so formidable that it has been crowned champions of Europe in three of the past four seasons.

But before we become too indignant about Saracens’ willingness to flaunt their wealth and flout the rules, we would do well to acknowledge two other factors. One is that word “indirectly” as applied to Glasgow’s elimination. The other is the need in sport for real competition off the field as well as on.

Firstly, yes, you could say that Saracens knocked the Warriors out. Or you could blame Glasgow’s home draw with Exeter or the home defeat by La Rochelle. Players and coaches like

to talk about “controlling

the controllables”, and the fact is that the Warriors had their destiny in their own hands.

If they had beaten Exeter with a bonus point – or perhaps even without one – they would have gone

through. If they had beaten

La Rochelle they would have gone through. And Saracens could not have done a thing about it.

Secondly, while we do need a framework of financial rules to ensure fair play and guard against the sort of reckless overspending that could jeopardise the health of the sport, there is a danger in levelling down and making those regulations too strict. Clubs need to be able to attract investment and to thrive or fail by their own efforts.

There is nothing in theory to prevent the SRU from becoming immensely rich and trebling the budgets given to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

If rugby in Scotland is relatively impoverished and failing to flourish, we should look within our own borders for answers, rather than casting envious eyes at affluent outfits else-where.