Sale Sharks have hit back at Castleford Tigers following the conclusion of their legal dispute over Denny Solomona, branding the affair a waste of time.
The Sharks last week agreed to pay the Super League club “in excess of £200,000” in compensation, plus around £100,000 costs, for the winger in an out-of-court settlement.
Solomona, who had two years left on his Castleford contract, left the Tigers at the end of last season saying he intended to retire from rugby league and subsequently signed a three-year deal with Sale.
Castleford, who initially demanded £500,000 in compensation from rugby union side Sale, considered the settlement a victory but the Sharks also claim to be satisfied with the outcome.
A statement read: “Sale Sharks and Denny Solomona are delighted that the court case with Castleford Tigers has been resolved on favourable terms.
“The settlement sum accepted by Castleford is effectively the same £200,000 figure initially offered by Sale last year, with a small amount added for interest.
“Given that a potentially sizeable proportion of the legal costs may not be recoverable from Sale, it is inevitable that Castleford’s net position will be significantly lower than that £200,000 figure offered last year.
“The last 10 months have therefore been nothing more than an unnecessary distraction, and the court case has achieved nothing other than wasted time and legal fees for all involved.”
Castleford were backed in the dispute by the Rugby Football League, who wanted to send out a strong message about the importance of contracts being honoured.
But Sale’s statement added: “Castleford issued proceedings prematurely, in a hail of publicity, seeking in excess of £500,000 damages and with a purported desire to fight this case for the good of rugby league.
“This settlement proves that this was not the case. There has been no ruling at all and this case does not set a precedent for future dealings between rugby league and rugby union.
“If that was Castleford’s desire, they have failed to provide any clarity at all for other rugby league clubs, which suggests that their primary, if not only, motivation was to get monetary compensation. Even so, they will receive approximately 40 per cent of the sum they hoped for.
“Sale Sharks and Denny were quite willing to let the case run to trial, confident that they had done nothing wrong.
“There was an assumption (put forward by Castleford in the media) that Denny was in breach of his contract, yet there was evidence to show that he was treated unprofessionally by Castleford and Denny maintains that the club forced him into a position where his only future was in a different sport.”
Solomona scored a Super League record 40 tries in 2016. He played internationally for Samoa in rugby league but switched allegiance to England after changing to the 15-man game. He was called up by Eddie Jones for the recent tour of Argentina and scored a match-winning try on debut in the first Test in San Juan earlier this month.
Castleford have said they do not intend to respond to Sale’s statement, reiterating that they have already made their position clear.
Tigers chief executive Steve Gill said last week: “This has been a difficult few months for the club. It would have been very easy to walk away and put all of this down to experience but Castleford Tigers is not a selling club any more.
“We believe lessons have now been learnt and we hope if this was to happen again rugby union clubs would respect the fact that the league players who are under contract cannot be enticed away without fear of financial penalties.”