Saracens F.C.

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Saracens
Saracens FC logo.svg
Full nameSaracens Football Club
UnionMiddlesex RFU
Nickname(s)Sarries, The Men in Black, Wolf Pack, Fez Boys
Founded1876; 143 years ago (1876)
LocationHendon, London, Barnet, England[1]
Ground(s)Allianz Park (Capacity: 8,500/10,000+[nb 1])
ChairmanNigel Wray
CEOMitesh Velani
Director of RugbyMark McCall
Captain(s)Brad Barritt
Most capsKris Chesney
321 (All Competitions)
Top scorerOwen Farrell
1,548 (All Competitions)
Most triesChris Wyles
74 (All Competitions)
League(s)English Premiership
2018–19Champions
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website
www.saracens.com

Saracens Football Club (/ˈsærəsənz/) are an English professional rugby union team based in London,[1] England. Established in 1876, they play in Premiership Rugby, the top level of domestic rugby union in England, where they are the reigning champions and have won the title five times. They are also the current title holders of the European Rugby Champions Cup, a tournament which they have won more times than any other English team, with three titles, won in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Since 2012, Saracens have played their home games at Allianz Park in Hendon, in the London Borough of Barnet; previous grounds have included Vicarage Road in Watford, and Bramley Road. The club's home playing colours are black and red.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Saracens were founded in 1876 by the Old Boys of the Philological School in Marylebone, London (later to become St Marylebone Grammar School). The club's name is said to come from the "endurance, enthusiasm and perceived invincibility of Saladin's desert warriors of the 12th century". The fact that their local rivals were called the Crusaders may also have been a factor.[3] The Crescent and Star appearing in the club's emblem are reminiscent of those appearing on the flag of the Ottoman Empire.

Saracens amalgamated with neighbouring club Crusaders two years later. In 1892, Saracens moved from Crown Lane, Southgate, to Firs Farm, Winchmore Hill then played on nine different grounds before the move to Bramley Road[4] for the 1939–40 season (although the Second World War actually prevented them from playing there until 1945).

After their inaugural match against Blackheath, the Saracens had to wait another 9 years before Harlequins offered to include them on their fixture list. Saracens found it difficult to get games against first-class sides as the facilities at Bramley Road were so poor.

The club produced a number of internationals in pre-league era, such as hooker John Steeds who won five caps representing England from 1949 to 1950; Vic Harding, a lock also for England from 1961 to 1962; and George Sheriff, an England back-rower from 1966 to 1967.

The club enjoyed fixtures with the leading clubs for many years and enjoyed a particularly successful time in the 1970s when they reached the semi-finals of the National Cup. Special games played at Bramley Road during this period include the 1971 match against a select International XV. It was a fantastic occasion,[tone] as a 5,000 strong crowd (the largest ever to watch a rugby union game in North London at the time) came to watch a magnificent contest, ending Saracens 34 International XV 34.[citation needed]

This Saracens team also won the Middlesex Cup[5] beating rivals Wasps in the final.

The Courage leagues[edit]

After some bleak years in the early 1980s, the club responded to the challenge of the Courage Leagues, and with Floyd Steadman as captain and Tony Russ as coach, they won the second division in 1989 with a 100% record. The next year in the first division they surprised many by finishing fourth in the league behind Wasps, Gloucester and Bath. [6]

But within the space of two years, Saracens had lost Jason Leonard to Harlequins, Dean Ryan to Wasps and Ben Clarke to Bath and they were fast becoming a nursery for the more prestigious clubs. The 1992–93 season saw the leagues restructured with Saracens, along with three other clubs, being relegated to the second division. In 1993–94 Saracens finished third and narrowly missed out on promotion but the following year they finished as champions and were again back in the top flight. Former player David Wellman was given the task to re brand Saracens. He gave former player Mike Smith the remit to take Saracens professional. A benefactor was required in order to improve the ground and playing staff. Alas Saracens' seesaw existence over the nineties was about to continue in 1995–96 when they again found themselves at the wrong end of the table along with West Hartlepool but they were saved by their new CEO Mike Smith, who persuaded the RFU that there should be no relegation for the first season of professional rugby.

The professional era[edit]

1996–2000[edit]

In November 1995 Saracens gained the financial backing of Nigel Wray and this enabled the club to recruit the likes of Michael Lynagh, Philippe Sella, Francois Pienaar and Kyran Bracken.[7] Saracens moved again to Enfield F.C.'s ground, Southbury Road,[8] and they started the new season with a victory over title favourites Leicester but only finished seventh just missing out on Heineken Cup qualification.

The Saracens at a home match

The 1997–98 season, was a landmark year. They began a ground share with Watford FC and their 22,000 all seater Vicarage Road Stadium. The agreement ran until February 2013, when Saracens relocated to Barnet Copthall.

The appointment of a Marketing Director saw Saracens splashed all over the broadsheets, tabloids, magazines and TV and with the help of a small band of be-fezzed followers that had been following the club for a number of years, "the year of the Fez"[clarification needed] began.

Close season signings like Danny Grewcock, Roberto Grau, Gavin Johnson and Ryan Constable joined forces with the home grown talent of Tony Diprose, Richard Hill and Steve Ravenscroft to form a side that would prove a significant force during the season losing only three games during the season to finish second in the Premiership, missing out narrowly to Newcastle, another club that had embraced the changes that the professional game had brought. Newcastle haven't repeated this success since.

Consolation for missing out on the league title came in the then principal domestic cup competition, the Tetley Bitter Cup. Saracens beat Wasps 48–18 in the cup final at Twickenham, in doing so equalling Bath's cup-final record score of 48 points. Their run had included a 59-point win over Blackheath, a 14–13 victory over Leicester, a quarter final 36–30 win over a Richmond, followed by a victory over Northampton. It was the first major silverware that Saracens had won in their 122-year history. The game was also notable for being the last competitive game for two legends of the sport, Lynagh and Sella; some years later these same two players became the inaugural members of Saracen's Hall of Fame.[9]

After a solid start to 1998–99 season, Saracens were rocked in December when they lost to third from bottom London Scottish in a shock defeat at home, but a win against Bedford and West Hartlepool and a draw with Wasps still saw them in touch with leaders Leicester. The second half of the season was a roller coaster ride with Saracens going from eighth and out of European contention after a run of four loses, to eventually finishing third as London's top club.

The 1999–00 season saw more big name players move to Vicarage Road with Mark Mapletoft, Thierry Lacroix, Scott Murray and Dan Luger joining the club along with Darragh O'Mahony and the up-and-coming Julian White. With the squad ravaged by World Cup duty and then injury the club's first attempt at the Heineken Cup was not a happy one. They lost three games by a couple of points in the last seconds of the game and didn't make the quarter finals.

With a few games left they were looking at a possible failure to qualify for Europe again, but Kyran Bracken returned from a ten-month injury to inspire Saracens into fourth place and Heineken Cup qualification.

2000–2006[edit]

2000–01 saw another difficult start to the season. By October Saracens had effectively crashed out of the Heineken Cup with back to back defeats to Cardiff and with the team shorn of internationals due to the Autumn Tests the final blow was dealt when Thomas Castaignède suffered an Achilles tendon injury.

The results went downhill fast and a fifth-place finish saw the club miss out on a Heineken Cup place.

The 2001–02 season brought many changes, with established players such as Luger, Grewcock, White, Wallace and, much to the consternation of his loyal fan club, Tony Diprose, all leaving the club. Further weakened with the news that Castaignède was likely to miss the whole of the coming season, Francois Pienaar, now in full control of coaching operations opted to make use of a crop of younger players coming through the club system.

After a reasonable start to the season Saracens found themselves in their by then accustomed top half of the table position but then the curse of the Autumn Internationals once again took its toll, and Saracens' performances weakened drastically. Entering the New Year Saracens were again flirting with relegation danger, and soon exited all cup competitions. With morale sinking Pienaar stepped down from his various roles with the club after a five-year stay.

Lacking a coach the senior players took charge, the morale problem seemed to have passed, but results remained sketchy and the Saracens ended up in a lowly 10th place.

All Black legend Wayne Shelford took over the coaching reins for the 2002–03 season, while the playing squad saw the arrival of the likes of Andy Goode, Christian Califano, Craig Quinnell amongst several signings of established players. In a repetition of the pattern of some of the preceding seasons, Saracens once again got off to a flying start, beating Bath and Bristol.

Once again though, sound defeats, this season administered by London rivals, Wasps and Irish, seemed to shatter the team's confidence, to such an extent that once again by early in the new year Saracens were once again uncomfortably close to the relegation zone, the only real success coming in an impressive run in the Parker Pen Cup.

The club once again rallied towards the tail end of the season, with victories over Bristol, and then high flying Sale securing a 5th place in the table that seemed unlikely at the turn of the year, and a place in the play off system for the remaining European Cup place. A comfortable win over fourth placed Leeds in the play off semi-final brought an astonishingly tight final against Leicester.

With temperatures soaring at Franklin's Gardens, 80 minutes was not enough to separate the teams, with a late rally by Saracens tying the scores at 20–20. Ultimately, a Neil Back try was to see Leicester through, but at least it appeared that Saracen's had rediscovered their fighting spirit.

The late rally was not enough to save Shelford, and he and most of the rest of the coaching staff paid the price for the weak season, being replaced by the experienced Australia and Leicester player, Rod Kafer, at that time a relative newcomer to a coaching roll, for the 2003–04 season. Key signings included Fijian Simon Raiwalui, former French captain Raphaël Ibañez, Springbok Cobus Visagie and All Black Taine Randell.

The club's finances were also diversified with Nigel Wray divesting himself of nearly 50% of his shares to spread the financial cost and risk of supporting Saracens. This led to the addition of five new members being appointed to the Saracens board.[10]

The change of faces did little to change the pattern of consistent inconsistency of previous seasons. Once again, the early rounds saw a false dawn as Saracens found themselves in the top three, and again the club coped badly with the international call-ups for the 2003 World Cup, once again finding themselves near the foot of the table. Only the long gap to bottom place Rotherham avoided any serious relegation danger. The victorious return of Richard Hill and Kyran Bracken from World Cup duty brought somewhat more upbeat performances for the second half of the season, but it still took a rare away victory at London Irish to claim the same 10th place of two seasons before.[11]

2004–05 saw a bold strengthening of the squad, for once eschewing their cosmopolitan recruitment policy and securing mainly English based players, possibly with one eye on the effect that international call-ups had had in previous seasons. In came Kevin Yates, Iain Fullarton, Alex Sanderson, Dan Scarbrough and Hugh Vyvyan, while Matt Cairns returned to the club and Steve Diamond arrived at the club as forwards coach. Another signing who was to become a prominent part of the Saracens line up was fly half Glen Jackson from New Zealand.

The season got off to the best off all possible starts with Saracens scoring a victory over reigning champions Wasps at the first ever London 'Double Header' at Twickenham. Once again, Saracen's winter malaise struck, and after inconsistent performances, Diamond took over the coaching duties from Kafer. The New Year brought a string of convincing performances, and a long unbeaten run saw the club finish the season in the top half of the table, in fifth place.

Once again in the wild card system for a European Cup place, Worcester were comfortably beaten, setting up the chance to end the season where it had begun, back at Twickenham. A late try secured victory over Gloucester and a place in the next season's Heineken Cup was ensured.

There was further shuffling of the coaching pack in 2005–06 with Diamond becoming Director of Rugby and defensive coach Mike Ford taking over the front line coaching role.[12] In a reversal of the previous season's outcome Saracens lost their opening double-header game against Wasps, but unlike some previous seasons, this did not immediately trigger a run of bad results, and indeed until December Saracens progressed well. The Christmas season saw the start of a calamitous dip in form and going into the final months of the season the prospect of ending up in another relegation scrap seemed very real.

Diamond parted company with the club, with Ford taking over full control of the team, assisted by future England coach Eddie Jones in a consulting role. Results improved, and an away win at Sale who were to be champions that season even brought the prospect of another Heineken cup place.[13]

A few disappointing results at the end of the season took some of the shine off the improved run of form, with Saracens ending the season in 10th place. The season's end also brought to a close the distinguished playing career of Kyran Bracken.

2006–07[edit]

Saracens mascot Sarrie the Camel

With Mike Ford being offered a role in the England set-up, former Leinster, Munster and Australia coach Alan Gaffney was appointed coach for the 2006 campaign.[14] Amongst the new signings was South African, Neil de Kock, a player who was influential in the club's best season since 2000. Once again, Saracens were narrowly defeated by Wasps in the London double-header.

This was to be followed by what turned out to be a good away draw at Bristol in the context of the excellent season that Bristol would go on to have, before a bonus point win was secured against the Newcastle Falcons. A morale-boosting run of results followed, losing only three times between October and the following March. No individual result could quite produce the reaction that the return of England's Richard Hill to top flight action, with supporters of both clubs giving Hill a huge ovation on his return to the pitch after 18 months of knee reconstruction, capping off his comeback with a try.

This period also saw the long-awaited arrival of former Great Britain Rugby League captain, Andy Farrell, initially at flanker, but later at centre, the position at which he went on to take his England debut.

With the prospect of a place in the Premiership play-offs becoming ever more real, Saracens were also progressing well in the European Challenge Cup. They qualified for the knockout stages as second seeds, with only an away draw at Glasgow spoiling their group stage progression. A further win at the quarter-final stage against Glasgow saw Saracens host Bath for the semi-final, only to lose to ultimate runners up of the competition.

Results in the Premiership went Saracens' way, leaving them with the possibility of ending up anywhere from second to fifth as the final round of matches approached. After a day of games almost all of which had significant consequences in terms of positions at the top, and at the foot of the table, Saracens found themselves in the Premiership playoffs for the first time, squeezing Wasps into a rare 5th-place position, out of playoff contention.[15]

The campaign was to end with a heavy defeat away at Gloucester, however, overall the season represented a significant advance on those of recent years. After the end of the season there was to be personal success for Glen Jackson, whose league topping 400 points for the season and consistent high-level performances almost every week saw him awarded the PRA Player of the Year Award by his fellow professionals. On a sadder note the mercurial Thomas Castaignède, one of the most enduringly popular players at the club decided to bring his club rugby career to an end after providing many years of entertaining rugby at its best both for Saracens and France.[16]

2007–08[edit]

Preparation for the 2007–08 seasons saw somewhat less activity in comings and goings from the squad, reflecting the relatively solid 2006–07 season. Among signings to date, specialist cover for Glen Jackson came in the form of Scotland fly half Gordon Ross, while South African utility back Brent Russell was highly regarded by many Springbok fans.

The most spectacular signing though was that of All Black second row Chris Jack, widely regarded as the world's best in his position, who joined Saracens after the 2007 World Cup. In addition to his all-round game, Saracens hoped that Jack would bring some solidity to a Saracens' line-out which was one of the areas where they were consistently pressured in the previous season. The estimated value of Jack's contract raised eyebrows with a three-year contract at a total value of £750,000.[17]

The loss of Glen Jackson and Brent Russell for the opening of the season due to pre-season injuries represented a significant blow to the club, but nonetheless the season began well with a return to winning ways against Wasps in the opening day London double-header. Defeat at the first home game by early pace setters Gloucester brought the team down to earth, before a solid away win at struggling Leeds, revenge for the previous season's home and away defeats away at Worcester, and a win back at Vicarage Road over Leicester. Defensive frailties saw Saracens go into the Autumn Premiership break for cup matches third in the table, but also with the third worst defensive record, after a defeat away at Sale.

The first round of cup competition saw Saracens win comfortably away at Leeds in the EDF Energy Cup, despite conceding four tries. Another bonus point win over Bristol back at Vicarage Road positioned Saracens well with maximum points ahead of a difficult away trip to Llanelli. Turning to Europe, Saracens' return to Heineken Cup action also saw the return of Glasgow Warriors to Vicarge Road. As in the two European Challenge Cup home games against the same team in the previous season, Saracens ran out bonus point winners, albeit not without defensive frailties causing anxious moments going into the final minutes of the game. The following weekend Saracens lost out by a single point against Biarritz Olympique being denied by a penalty scored from the half-way line in the dying moments of the match.

The brief return to Guinness Premiership action at the end of November saw Saracens come out top in a tight battle at home against London Irish, with the lead changing hands several times. Cup action in the form of the final round of EDF Energy Cup pool stage games, where Saracens failed once again to win away in Wales, but taking a losing bonus point and a try bonus too was enough to see them qualify for the semi-final stage for the first time in their Anglo-Welsh cup history, ahead of their opponents Llanelli Scarlets. Further progress was then made in the Heineken Cup in an impressive ten try to one defeat of Viadana at home in a game which saw the first team debuts for Chris Jack and Brent Russell. Viadana almost took their revenge in the return fixture the following week, where Saracens conceded a 26–3 half time lead to the Italians, before showing composure in the second half to score 31 unanswered points and take the win that would see them enter the New Year at the head of their Heineken Cup pool.

The return to premiership action over Christmas and the New Year began well for Saracens with a win away at London rivals Harlequins, however once again defensive weakness and coming out of the blocks slowly saw Saracens take only a losing bonus point from their final fixture of 2007 in the Premiership, though it was enough to see them go into the New Year in third place in the domestic league.

The buildup to the first game of 2008 was dominated by talk away from the field of play, with the news that former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones was to succeed Alan Gaffney at the top of the coaching subject with Gaffney adopting the same consulting role Jones had been providing, whilst rumours of substantial cash investment from South African rugby interests abounded. When the focus returned to on-field matters Saracens suffered a second successive defeat in the Premiership, this time away at Bristol, failing even to take a losing bonus point for the first time in any competition in the season and raising fears of the all too familiar Saracens' winter slump.

2009–10[edit]

The arrival of Brendan Venter to the head coach role sparked major controversy. Shortly after arrival he triggered the culling of 18 players within 48 hours, known amongst fans as "the night of the long knives", this would then be followed up by the arrival of a number of South Africans to the squad. This caused the club to be strongly criticised as they were seen to be swaying away from being an English club. Some even began calling the club "Saffracens", due to their strong South African links (Saffa being slang for South African).[18]

This didn't stop Saracens going on a 10-match unbeaten run at the start of the domestic season which saw wins over London Irish (at Twickenham in the London Double Header), Northampton (at Wembley), London Wasps and Bath.

On 16 November a Derick Hougaard drop goal saw a one-point win over South Africa at Wembley. Viewed by some as a notable example of the South Africa excessive presence (Saracens fielded 9 South Africans), Saracens managed to overturn a 6–18 half time deficit to win 24–23.[19] Generating greater publicity than the actual game was Stuart Tinner managing to win £250,000 by kicking a ball to directly hit the crossbar of the posts. A question of his punting (kicking a falling ball) rather than kicking a drop goal was resolved in his favour leaving this unheard of success to be shown around the world.[20]

27 December saw Saracens lose away to London Irish, which was their first defeat of the domestic league competition, having had one draw and two losses in all competitions before this date. What followed was five defeats in the next six games; Leicester, Wasps, Bath and Leeds Carnegie all defeated Saracens, accompanied with being knocked out of the Amlin Challenge Cup despite losing only one match.

The post-Christmas slump in form for Saracens looked all too familiar. Yet a change in playing style and having found a new sense of attacking rugby, Sarries stopped the rot with a 58–15 drubbing of struggling Newcastle. From then on, they went on to win four out the five matches played, including impressive wins away to Sale, Northampton and table-topping Leicester Tigers.

This drastic change in form secured Saracens' Guinness Premiership Semi-Final spot in a respectable 3rd place and now faced Northampton Saints, the fifth time this season, away at Franklin's Gardens looking to end a streak of six semi-final losses in all competitions in the last three-years. Saracens defeated Northampton 21–19 in an all-mighty clash, with Glen Jackson ensuring that Sarries reached their first final since 1998 with a late kick, converting Schalk Brits's driving-maul try.

The 2010 Guinness Premiership Final at Twickenham, pitted Saracens against the eight-time and reigning English Champions, Leicester Tigers. In a pulsating game of rugby, Leicester sneaked Saracens to a 33–27 win with a late try to Dan Hipkiss providing the difference after Saracens flyhalf Glen Jackson had kicked what looked to be the winning penalty with only a few minutes left. Heartbreak for Sarries and their fans, but it just wasn't to be a fairy-tale ending for a remarkable season.[21]

The final also marked the last match for a number of players including Fabio Ongaro, Matías Agüero, former All Black Justin Marshall and loyal fly-half Glen Jackson.[21]

2010–11: Premiership champions[edit]

Saracens opened the 2010–11 season with a loss to London Irish in the opener of the London Double Header at Twickenham, Following the loss, their form improved as they ran off four wins in succession before a shock loss to Premiership newcomers Exeter Chiefs. They crashed out of the Heineken Cup in the pool stage, finishing bottom of a tough pool that featured Leinster, the ultimate Heineken Cup winners, and Clermont and Racing Métro, both of which made the French semi-finals. Saracens' domestic form, however, proved much stronger; they secured a home semi-final with one league match left, defeating Harlequins on the final day to complete a run of ten straight victories, including away at Northampton, Wasps, Exeter and Leicester Tigers. In the regular season Saracens won more games than any other side −18 in total – only missing out on top spot in the league because of the bonus point system. Gloucester awaited the Men in Black in the Semi-Final at Vicarage Road. A nervy finish and a late penalty from young flyhalf Owen Farrell gave Sarries the 12–10 win they wanted to reach their second successive Premiership Final.[22] In the Final, they again faced Leicester Tigers in a dramatic encounter.[23] Saracens dominated the first half, leading 16–9 at half-time thanks to a James Short try, and showed a strong defensive performance to keep out waves of Leicester attack. This culminated in a nine-minute period of extra time during which they defended over 30 phases of Leicester assault through the forwards while leading 22–18, finally being awarded a penalty to crown them English champions for the first time and get revenge against Leicester for the previous year's final. Schalk Brits, who set up James Short's try, was awarded Man of the Match.[24]

The new Allianz Park

Saracens also had one major off-field development during the season. Their landlord Watford FC activated a break clause in their groundshare deal, which at the time meant that Saracens needed a new home for the 2011–12 season.[25] After looking at several venues in the area, Saracens announced on 10 November 2010 that it was in serious discussions with Barnet Borough Council about a move to the athletics stadium at the Barnet Copthall complex. Under the plan, Saracens would redevelop the stadium into a modern facility with 3,000 permanent seats and demountable stands to allow a rugby capacity of 10,000, and include the first artificial pitch in English rugby union.[26]

Because of delays in the Barnet Copthall project, Saracens eventually reached an agreement with Watford to extend the groundshare at Vicarage Road for the 2011–12 season; the agreement covered at least 10 home matches that season.[27]

2014–15: Premiership champions[edit]

Saracens started the 2014–15 with high-scoring victories against London rivals Wasps and Harlequins, and went on to finish the regular season in fourth place, qualifying for the play-offs. After beating first-placed Northampton 29–24 in the semi-final,[28] Saracens met Bath in the final. Saracens scored three unanswered tries in the first half, and went on to win the game 28–16, becoming the first team to become Premiership champions from a fourth-place finish.[29] They made it a double, with a 23–20 win against Exeter in the final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, a last minute penalty from Ben Spencer claiming Saracen's second Cup win.[30]

In the first iteration of the European Rugby Champions Cup Saracens made it to the Semi-Finals before losing to ASM Clermont[31] In the boardroom, CEO Edward Griffiths departed and was replaced by Heath Harvey, a former director at Club Wembley.[32]

International relationships[edit]

Following the Saracens tour of Japan, they have developed a relationship with Fukuoka Sanix Blues. They played Sanix at Global Arena at the start of Buck Shelford's reign as head coach and won comfortably, but they had a harder game on the same tour in Tokyo against Suntory Sungoliath.

In 2008–09, 50% of the club was bought by a South African consortium. Eddie Jones left mid-season and Brendan Venter was announced as the new Director of Rugby. Many players were 'culled' mid-season, to the outrage of the media. The changes in the club resulted in a dramatic turnaround in the club's fortunes, as they won their first eight games in the 2009–10 season, and finished 2009 on top of the Guinness Premiership. However, following a run of poor performances, they slipped to third finishing the season behind Leicester and Northampton.

Under the current ownership, Saracens have dramatically increased their international reach. They currently have established partner clubs in Georgia, Seattle, Timișoara, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur, Amman, Moscow, Kenya, São Paulo, and Tonga. According to CEO Edward Griffiths, "We estimate we could have 40 Saracens players participating at the Rio Olympics under various national colours. And we have an advertising campaign running worldwide on CNBC."[33]

2013 international encounters[edit]

In the summer of 2013, Saracens played two international matches. They beat the South African Barbarians on 16 May at Artillery Ground.[34] They toured the Atlantic Ocean island Bermuda to promote rugby.[35] They visited a number of schools, ran coaching workshops and engaged in fundraising activities while on tour. To finish, they played a Bermuda International Select XV, which included Simon Taylor, Mike Scholz, Zach Pangelinan, Shaun Perry and Gcobani Bobo who are all Internationally capped. The side was coached by former England international Lewis Moody and captained by former Ireland player Geordan Murphy.[36]

2016 and 2017 matches in the United States[edit]

On 12 March 2016, Saracens' away Premiership match against London Irish was held at the Red Bull Arena in the U.S. state of New Jersey. This was the first time a Premiership match had taken place overseas.[37] Saracens won by a score of 26–16.[38]

Saracens returned to the United States when they were hosted by the Newcastle Falcons on 16 September 2017 at the Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia. Saracens won by a score of 29–7.

Current kit[edit]

The kit is currently supplied Nike, who had also supplied Saracens from 2010 till 2016.

Season summaries[edit]

League Domestic Cup European Cup
Season Competition Final Position Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987–
88
Courage League Division 2 3rd 34 N/A John Player Cup 4th round No competition N/A
1988–
89
Courage League Division 2 1st (P) 22 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A
1989–
90
Courage League Division 1 4th 15 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A
1990–
91
Courage League Division 1 10th 10 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A
1991–
92
Courage League Division 1 5th 15 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A
1992–
93
Courage League Division 1 11th (R) 6 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A
1993–
94
Courage League Division 2 3rd 23 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter–final No competition N/A
1994–
95
Courage League Division 2 1st (P) 31 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A
1995–
96
Courage League Division 1 9th 10 N/A Pilkington Cup 5th round No English teams N/A
1996–
97
Courage League Division 1 6th 25 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter–final Not qualified N/A
1997–
98
Allied Dunbar Premiership 2nd 37 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Champions Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
C&G Cup Pool stage
1998–
99
Allied Dunbar Premiership 3rd 33 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter–final No English teams N/A
C&G Cup 2nd round
1999–
00
Allied Dunbar Premiership 4th 28 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 5th round Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2000–
01
Zurich Premiership 5th 58 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter–final Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2001–
02
Zurich Premiership 10th 34 N/A Powergen Cup Quarter–final Challenge Cup Quarter–final
2002–
03
Zurich Premiership 8th 42 - Powergen Cup Quarter–final Challenge Cup Semi–final
2003–
04
Zurich Premiership 10th 39 - Powergen Cup Quarter–final Challenge Cup Quarter–final
2004–
05
Zurich Premiership 5th 57 - Powergen Cup Quarter–final Challenge Cup Quarter–final
2005–
06
Guinness Premiership 10th 46 - Powergen Cup 4th in pool Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2006–
07
Guinness Premiership 4th 63 Semi–final EDF Energy Cup 3rd in pool Challenge Cup Semi–final
2007–
08
Guinness Premiership 8th 52 - EDF Energy Cup Semi–final Heineken Cup Semi–final
2008–
09
Guinness Premiership 9th 47 - EDF Energy Cup 3rd in pool Challenge Cup Semi–final
2009–
10
Guinness Premiership 3rd 69 Runners–up LV= Cup Semi–final Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2010–
11
Aviva Premiership 2nd 76 Champions LV= Cup 2nd in pool Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2011–
12
Aviva Premiership 3rd 73 Semi–final LV= Cup 2nd in pool Heineken Cup Quarter–final
2012–
13
Aviva Premiership 1st 77 Semi–final LV= Cup Semi–final Heineken Cup Semi–final
2013–
14
Aviva Premiership 1st 87 Runners–up LV= Cup Semi–final Heineken Cup Runners–up
2014–
15
Aviva Premiership 4th 68 Champions LV= Cup Champions Champions Cup Semi–final
2015–
16
Aviva Premiership 1st 80 Champions No competition N/A Champions Cup Champions
2016–
17
Aviva Premiership 3rd 77 Semi-final Anglo-Welsh Cup Semi–final Champions Cup Champions
2017–
18
Aviva Premiership 2nd 77 Champions Anglo-Welsh Cup Quarter–final Champions Cup Quarter–final
2018–
19
Gallagher Premiership 2nd 78 Champions Premiership Cup Runners–up Champions Cup Champions

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runners-up
Pink background denotes relegated

Club honours[edit]

Saracens F.C.[edit]

Saracens Storm Reserves[edit]

Friendly[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The Saracens senior squad for the 2019–20 season is:[40][a]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Jamie George Hooker England England
Joe Gray Hooker England England
Jack Singleton Hooker England England
Tom Woolstencroft Hooker England England
Ralph Adams-Hale Prop England England
Richard Barrington Prop England England
Rhys Carré Prop Wales Wales
Josh Ibuanokpe Prop England England
Juan Figallo Prop Argentina Argentina
Vincent Koch Prop South Africa South Africa
Titi Lamositele Prop United States United States
Mako Vunipola Prop England England
Nick Isiekwe Lock England England
Maro Itoje Lock England England
George Kruis Lock England England
Will Skelton Lock Australia Australia
Calum Clark Back row England England
Ben Earl Back row England England
Michael Rhodes Back row South Africa South Africa
Billy Vunipola Back row England England
Jackson Wray Back row England England
Player Position Union
Alex Day Scrum-half England England
Ben Spencer Scrum-half England England
Tom Whiteley Scrum-half England England
Richard Wigglesworth Scrum-half England England
Owen Farrell Fly-half England England
Max Malins Fly-half England England
Damian Willemse Fly-half South Africa South Africa
Brad Barritt (c) Centre England England
Viliami Hakalo Centre Tonga Tonga
Alex Lozowski Centre England England
Dominic Morris Centre England England
Duncan Taylor Centre Scotland Scotland
Nick Tompkins Centre England England
Alistair Crossdale Wing England England
Elliot Daly Wing England England
Alex Lewington Wing England England
Sean Maitland Wing Scotland Scotland
Rotimi Segun Wing England England
Liam Williams Wing Wales Wales
Matt Gallagher Fullback England England
Alex Goode Fullback England England
  • Notes:
  1. ^ On 2 September 2019, Damian Willemse signed a short-term loan deal with Saracens from Stormers, as injury cover for 3 months.

Academy squad[edit]

The Saracens academy squad is:[41]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Theodore Dan Hooker England England
Kapeli Pifeleti Hooker United States United States
Harvey Beaton Prop England England
Sam Crean Prop England England
Mink Scharink Prop Netherlands Netherlands
Sam Wainwright Prop Wales Wales
Cameron Boon Lock Ireland Ireland
Callum Hunter-Hill Lock Scotland Scotland
Joel Kpoku Lock England England
Jonathan Kpoku Lock England England
Ethan Benson Back row England England
Andy Christie Back row England England
Tobias Munday Back row England England
Sean Refell Back row England England
Oliver Stonham Back row England England
Player Position Union
Manu Vunipola Fly-half England England
Josh Hallett Centre England England
Charlie Watson Centre England England
Elliott Obatoyinbo Wing England England

Club staff[edit]

Management[edit]

Role Name
Chairman England Nigel Wray
Chief Executive England Mitesh Velani
Board of Directors England Clem Booth
South Africa Morne du Plessis
South Africa Faffa Knoetze
England Nick Leslau
South Africa Francois Pienaar
England Caroline Rupert
England Dominic Silvester
England Steve Thomas

Coaching staff[edit]

The Saracens first team and academy coaches are:[42]

Role Name
Director of Rugby/Head Coach Ireland Mark McCall
Performance Director Ireland Philip Morrow
Forwards/Defence Coach England Alex Sanderson
Forwards/Scrum Coach England Ian Peel
Backs Coach England Kevin Sorrell
Attack/Skills Coach England Joe Shaw
Kicking Coach and Physio Australia Dan Vickers
Academy Head Coach England Adam Powell
Academy Forwards Coach Scotland Kelly Brown
Academy Backs Coach England James Tirrell
Academy Manager England Mike Hynard

Notable players[edit]

The 100 Club[edit]

The following players are members of 'The 100 Club', having played 100 or more games for Saracens in all competitions (number of matches played in brackets).[43]

British and Irish Lions  British and Irish Lions flag.svg [edit]

The following players have been selected to represent the British and Irish Lions on tour whilst with the club:

South Africa 1997

Australia 2001

New Zealand 2005

Australia 2013

New Zealand 2017

Hall of Fame[edit]

The following players have been inducted into the Saracens Hall of Fame:[44]

  • England John Steeds (1938–1950)
  • England Tony Turner (1946–1949)
  • England Vic Harding (1951–1964)
  • England Ken Bartlett (1959–1962, 1967)
  • England James Wyness (1961–1968)
  • England George Sherriff (1963–1973)
  • England John Lockwood (1963–1977)
  • England Mel Williams (1966–1976)
  • England Floyd Steadman (1980–1990)
  • England Lee Adamson (1983–1994, 2000–2007)
  • England Brian Davies (1990–1996)
  • England John Buckton (1984–1996)
  • Australia Michael Lynagh (1996–1998)
  • France Philippe Sella (1996–1998)

Notable former internationals[edit]

The following is a list of former Saracens players who received at least one international cap during their professional career.

English Premiership record[edit]

Results per opposition[edit]

The following table details the past performance of Saracens against different opponents in the English Premiership, between the 1989–90 and 2018–19 seasons.

English Premiership
Opposition Span Played Won Drawn Lost Win% Points for Average PF Points against Best score Worst score 40-49 points 50+ points
Bath 1989–2019 53 30 2 21 56.60% 1224 23.09 1127 55-23 (2006–07) 66-21 (2007–08) 1 4
Bristol Bears 1989–2019 30 20 1 9 66.67% 717 23.90 510 45-30 (2002–03) 45-22 (1999–00) 2 0
Harlequins 1989–2019 51 31 1 19 60.78% 1201 23.55 1033 50-10 (1999–00) 43-6 (2001–02) 2 1
Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club 1989–1990 2 2 0 0 100.00% 54 27.00 19 33-13 (1989–90) 13-33 (1989–90) 0 0
Orrell R.U.F.C. 1989–1997 8 5 0 3 62.50% 130 16.25 134 44-22 (1996–97) 38-13 (1995–96) 1 0
Bedford Blues 1989–2000 5 5 0 0 100.00% 187 37.40 80 57-29 (1999–00) 29-57 (1999–00) 1 1
Gloucester 1989–2019 55 24 3 28 43.64% 1220 22.18 1178 62-12 (2017–18) 50-9 (2006–07) 4 2
Leicester Tigers 1989–2019 56 23 4 29 41.07% 1131 20.20 1292 50-25 (2011–12) 48-7 (2001–02) 2 1
Nottingham R.F.C. 1989–1992 3 2 0 1 66.67% 53 17.67 40 28-3 (1990–91) 25-12 (1989–90) 0 0
Rosslyn Park F.C. 1989–1992 3 3 0 0 100.00% 38 12.67 30 15-13 (1989–90) 13-15 (1989–90) 0 0
Wasps RFC 1989–2019 53 25 1 27 47.17% 1096 20.68 1250 57-33 (2017–18) 64-23 (2015–16) 0 1
Liverpool St Helens F.C. 1990–1991 1 1 0 0 100.00% 17 17.00 3 17-3 (1990–91) 3-17 (1990–91) 0 0
Northampton Saints 1990–2019 51 32 0 19 62.75% 1207 23.67 1076 63-13 (2017–18) 58-17 (2005–06) 1 2
London Irish 1991–2018 44 26 0 18 59.09% 1061 24.22 880 51-14 (2017–18) 55-13 (2001–02) 6 1
Rugby Lions 1991–1993 2 2 0 0 100.00% 36 18.00 15 22-6 (1991–92) 9-14 (1992–93) 0 0
West Hartlepool 1992–1999 7 6 0 1 85.71% 249 35.57 127 52-3 (1998–99) 31-41 (1995–96) 2 2
London Scottish F.C. 1992–1999 3 2 0 1 66.67% 106 35.33 61 58-20 (1998–99) 24-7 (1998–99) 1 1
Sale Sharks 1995–2019 48 31 2 15 64.58% 1311 27.31 964 58-12 (1999–00) 40-32 (2005–06) 7 3
Richmond F.C. 1997–1999 4 4 0 0 100.00% 88 22.00 54 33-17 (1998–99) 18-25 (1998–99) 0 0
Newcastle Falcons 1997–2019 42 29 1 12 69.05% 1075 25.60 739 58-15 (2009–10) 47-18 (2001–02) 4 2
Rotherham Titans 2000–2004 4 3 0 1 75.00% 121 30.25 46 55-30 (2000–01) 19-8 (2000–01) 0 1
Yorkshire Carnegie 2001–2011 16 10 0 6 62.50% 399 24.94 266 66-7 (2007–08) 41-31 (2003–04) 0 1
Worcester Warriors 2004–2019 26 17 1 8 65.38% 638 24.54 417 48-22 (2015–16) 31-29 (2018–19) 5 0
Exeter Chiefs 2010–2019 22 13 1 8 59.09% 506 23.00 384 40-22 (2011–12) 34-37 (2018–19) 1 0
London Welsh RFC 2012–2015 4 4 0 0 100.00% 209 52.25 61 78-7 (2014–15) 23-28 (2012–13) 0 2
Overall 1989–2019 593 350 17 226 59.02% 14074 23.73 11786 78–7 vs London Welsh (2014-15) 66-21 vs Bath (2007-08) 40 25
  • All this data includes all regular season and play-off matches (semi-finals and finals)
  • All fixtures added 1989–90 - 2018–19
  • Up to date and 2018–19 final included.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Capacity is limited to 8500 for the 2019/20 rugby season due to major refurbishments.[2]

Additional Sources[edit]

  • 'The Saracen', Matchday programmes 1998–2007

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Contact Us". Saracens FC. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  2. ^ Chris Jones (6 June 2019). "Saracens critics motivated by 'jealousy'". Rugby Pass. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Official Saracens Page". Facebook. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  4. ^ How to Find Us Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Saracens Amateur Rugby Football Club
  5. ^ Haydn Perry, Saracens Official 1876–1976 Centenary Brochure, 1976, Erreys Printers Ltd
  6. ^ "Saracens - History". www.saracens.com.
  7. ^ "Lynagh enrolls for Saracens. 9th January 1996". The Independent.
  8. ^ "Saracens go Global. 24th April 2014". Daily Mail Sport.
  9. ^ "Saracens Season and Final Win". The Independent.
  10. ^ "Hendon & Finchley Times – Wray on Saracens' Finances". Hendon & Finchley Times. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015.
  11. ^ "2003/04 Results". Premiership Rugby. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Diamond Promoted to Director of Rugby. 14th December 2004". BBC Sport.
  13. ^ "Saracens Coaching Changes". BBC Sport.
  14. ^ "Gaffney chosen as Saracens Coach. 12th April 2006". The Guardian.
  15. ^ "2006/07 results". Premiership Rugby.
  16. ^ "Thomas Castaignède on his retirement. 10th May 2007". Guardian.
  17. ^ "Saracens move to Hire Chris Jack. 1st March 2007". London Evening Standard.
  18. ^ "Changes from Toil and Misery". Guardian Newspaper.
  19. ^ "Saracens defeat South Africa. 17th November 2009". BBC Sport.
  20. ^ "Stuart Tinner Hits the Posts for £250,000. 19th November 2009". Daily Mail Sports.
  21. ^ a b "Last Minute Victory for Tigers. 30 May 2010". Guardian.
  22. ^ "Saracens 12–10 Gloucester". BBC Sport. 15 May 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  23. ^ Gutsy Saracens secure Premiership glory ESPNScrum.com, 28 May 2011
  24. ^ "Leicester 18–22 Saracens". BBC Sport. 28 May 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  25. ^ "Saracens facing Vicarage Road exit after Watford activate break clause". guardian.co.uk. Guardian News and Media. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  26. ^ "Saracens set out Copthall Stadium plans". BBC Sport. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  27. ^ "Saracens return to Watford's Vicarage Road next season". BBC Sport. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  28. ^ "Saracens edge Northampton in Semi-Final. 23rd May 2015". Premiership Rugby.
  29. ^ "Saracens Crowned Champions. 30th May 2015". Premiership Rugby. Archived from the original on 31 May 2015.
  30. ^ "LV= Cup Results". Premiership Rugby. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012.
  31. ^ "Saracens vs ASM Clermont. 18th April 2015". Premiership Rugby. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015.
  32. ^ "Harvey Heath announced as Saracens' new CEO. 4th June 2015". BBC Sport.
  33. ^ Godwin, Hugh (29 March 2014). "Premiership clubs must take 'urgent steps' to attract best players and bigger crowds". Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  34. ^ Saracens 19 South African Barbarians 0 Saracens.com, 16 May 2013
  35. ^ Saracens to tour Bermuda in bid to promote Caribbean rugby Mail Online, 27 March 2013
  36. ^ Five Eagles to face Saracens in Bermuda USA Rugby, 29 April 2013
  37. ^ "London Irish Aviva Premiership Rugby match in USA". London Irish. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  38. ^ "Match Report: London Irish 16 Saracens 26: Aviva Premiership Rugby". Aviva Premiership. Premier Rugby.
  39. ^ "Melrose Sevens". 7 June 2019.
  40. ^ "Saracens Squads - Men". Saracens. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  41. ^ "Saracens Squads - Academy". Saracens. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  42. ^ "Saracens Squads - Coaches". Saracens. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  43. ^ "Saracens - 100 Club Members". www.saracens.com.
  44. ^ Hall of Fame Saracens.com Archived 12 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]