Saracens coach McCall thankful for Champions Cup lifeline

Rugby Union - Premiership - Leicester Tigers v Saracens - Welford Road Stadium, Leicester, Britain - October 27, 2019 Saracens head coach Mark McCall before the match Action Images/Ed Sykes

(Reuters) - Saracens coach Mark McCall says he is thankful that an independent disciplinary committee decided not to expel them from the Champions Cup after they fielded an ineligible player last month.

The Premiership champions, who have already been relegated from English rugby’s top division for breaching salary cap rules, admitted prop Titi Lamositele’s work permit expired a day before their final pool stage match against Racing 92.

Instead of a possible points deduction, which could have seen them fail to qualify for the knockout stages, Saracens were fined 50,000 euros ($54,580) -- half of which is suspended until the end of the 2020-21 season.

“Titi has been at the club since he was 18 and has played however many games for Saracens so there was a difference between this case and other ineligible player cases in Europe,” McCall told reporters.

“And thankfully I think the committee agreed with that and thought the fine was what was appropriate.

“I think we’ve used 42 or 43 players in Europe and that quarter-final was hard-earned and earned by the whole squad, in particular in the last two matches when we went down to 14 men in both and managed to win both, which was a great achievement.”

Defending champions Saracens will meet Leinster in the quarter-finals on April 4 in a repeat of last season’s final, which they won 20-10.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford