Saracens chief Eddie Jones said the impact of so many players being forced out at the end of the season caught up with his team during their 21-15 English Premiership loss to Harlequins here Saturday.
Jones, together with at least 15 players, is poised to leave Sarries at the end of this term when the club's South African owners are set to bring in several signings from the Republic, as well as a new coach in Brendan Venter.
After the news broke last week, Saracens beat Sale 24-23.
But they could not replicate that performance at the Stoop in a match where Quins' tries from Ceri Jones and Danny Care, together with a conversion and three penalties from ex-All Black Nick Evans proved too much for Saracens, who saw former Springbok Wikus van Heerden and Richard Haughton cross the hosts' line, with Kiwi outside-half Glen Jackson adding a conversion and a penalty.
Former Wallaby boss Jones, who coached his native Australia to the 2003 World Cup final where they lost to England, said: "The first 40 minutes people had their heads all over the place.
"They just weren't concentrating on the game and they are some of our best players who have been involved in what's going on. That's a concern for us.
"This week was always going to be much harder than last week. You know, you lose your girlfriend and go out and have a drink and for the next 48 hours you are all right.
"Then you go home and your girlfriend's not there and that's when it starts to sink in. That's what this week's been like. I was anticipating emotionally we'd struggle in the first part of the game but not as much as we did."
Jones, a member of South Africa's backroom staff when the Springboks won the 2007 World Cup, added: "I'm really disappointed with our application to play for each other and I apologise to our supporters for that.
"It's really not good enough."
Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards slammed attempts to turn Saracens into a home-away-from-home for South Africans.
"Ruining a club like Saracens and turning it into a South African franchise is something which should be stopped - it's just not English rugby," he said.
"How can you have a South African side in the English league? It's disgraceful," the former England No 8 insisted.
Richards added: "We're always in the market and listening to what the agents are saying and we know there's been a huge push to bring in South African players into Saracens.
"The initial thought was that they had got 16 or 17 South African players lined up but some of these players have turned round and said: 'If we are going to go and experience a different culture why go to a South African club in England?' It's quite bizarre, isn't it?
"What they (the Saracens owners) are going to put in place when these players have gone is the worrying thing."
Source: AFP European Edition