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Ollie Lawrence says Worcester Warriors players have been 'let down by owners'

Ollie Lawrence has now signed for Bath after his contract with the Warriors was liquidated; Worcester suspended for the remainder of 2022/23 Premiership season and relegated to the Championship

Ollie Lawrence.
Image: Ollie Lawrence hopes that we will see a return for the Warriors to the Gallagher Premiership in the future.

England centre Ollie Lawrence has revealed his pain at Worcester's demise and called for co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham to "take accountability" for the situation that has unfolded.

Worcester were suspended from the Gallagher Premiership and will be relegated at the end of this season following Warriors' partial liquidation last week, with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) pursuing unpaid tax in the region of £6million.

Administrators continue working to find a buyer for the stricken outfit, while a number of players have moved on to new clubs after WRFC Players Ltd - the company which holds the contracts of Worcester's players and some staff - was liquidated in the High Court last week with all player employment immediately terminated.

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Worcester Warriors centre Ollie Lawrence says his club being put into administration cannot be allowed to happen to other teams in the Premiership.

Lawrence is among them, having signed a long-term deal with Bath, but he admits the events that unfolded at Worcester will probably never sink in.

Goldring and Whittingham even took a swipe at Worcester players and supporters, effectively blaming them for the club's financial issues in a public statement that caused outrage.

"Currently, I am still living in Worcester and commuting back and forth. Until I move here (Bath), I don't think it will fully sink in. I don't think it ever will, to be honest," he said.

"We felt like we had been let down by our owners. I think if we had have known a bit more about their financial struggles, it would have given boys more time to look elsewhere.

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The company which held Worcester Warriors Rugby Club player contracts has been wound up meaning a player exodus is likely as James Cole reports.

"We seemed to be on the back foot a lot of the time, and we were the ones going out on the weekends trying to put in shifts for each other, knowing that within the next couple of weeks, we might not even be a club.

"It is an element of frustration, feeling let down and just disappointed that they were allowed to do what they've done.

"With everything going on now, hopefully it will all unfold and it will all come out regarding what has gone on at the club.

"When that statement was released, it didn't make sense or go down well with a lot of people.

"They needed to take accountability for what they've done, because at the end of the day they can't blame players for the situation they were in.

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Worcester's Joe Batley discusses his and the club's situation after the Warriors received a winding-up petition due to an unpaid tax bill of £6m, and as a result has seen contracts of players immediately terminated.

"They gave us contracts, they agreed to the terms. If they couldn't afford to keep the club, then they should have made that clear earlier.

"There was no communication, and then the one time we did get communication it was basically a slating.

"To blame fans, saying there should have been more at games, they were just trying to find excuses to make themselves look better when, in fact, they have just made themselves look worse."

Lawrence has been joined at Bath by former Warriors colleagues Ted Hill, Fergus Lee-Warner and Valery Morozov, while Duhan van der Merwe has returned to Edinburgh, Joe Batley has re-joined Bristol and Saracens have signed Warriors winger Tom Howe and lock Andrew Kitchener on short-term deals.

Lawrence's focus must now be on Bath, where he will hope to regain England recognition and increase his tally of seven caps, but he remains hopeful that the Warriors may return to the Premiership.

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Maro Itoje is hoping Premiership rugby relaxes the salary cap rules to help former Worcester Warriors players find new clubs.

"Whatever is going on with the situation at the club (Worcester), we want to see them back in the Premiership and be part of the league for a long time," he added.

"There is so much history with the club and there are a lot of boys there who need the club to survive.

"We all want the best for the club, and no-one in the rugby community would have wanted to see what has happened to them.

"I am concerned by what is happening and will always have my attention in the corner of my eye to make sure my friends and stuff are looked after.

"It doesn't look great going forward, but hopefully, fingers crossed, they can get a new owner and build back up from the Championship."

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