Sale Sharks have accused Castleford Tigers of "putting a positive spin on what is clearly a meagre result" after a settlement was reached over the transfer of Denny Solomona.
Super League leaders Castleford released a statement last Friday announcing that their dispute with Sale, Solomona and his agent Andrew Clarke, which was heading for trial, had been settled after the defendants made an offer to pay compensation and submit to a costs order.
The row between Castleford and Sale came as a result of Solomona's cross-code switch to the Sharks last year. Sale insisted they did nothing wrong in acquiring the wing, who has since made his England debut, but the Tigers claimed Solomona had breached his contract by walking out on the club.
Castleford's solicitor, Richard Cramer, said: "This case has proved that rugby union clubs cannot without penalty just recruit a retired rugby league player who has walked out on his contract. The message is that negotiations have to be conducted through the front door."
Yet on Wednesday, Sale released a lengthy statement of their own in which they maintained Solomona had not breached his contract and insisted no precedent had been set by the settlement with Castleford. The Sharks also declared their delight at the court case being "resolved on favourable terms".
Sale's release read: "The settlement sum accepted by Castleford is effectively the same £200,000 figure initially offered by Sale [to purchase Solomona] 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 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.
"In the end, however, settlement of the dispute allows Sale Sharks and Denny to concentrate solely on playing rugby and to prepare for what is sure to be an exciting and, hopefully, successful season.
"The parties were looking to send a joint press statement, but the fact that Castleford jumped the gun with their own press release suggests that they have sought to put a positive spin on what is clearly a meagre result."