Most Saracens fans will have been happy to put 2020 behind them for rugby reasons as well as all those everyone else faced. It was truly an Annus horribilis. Once the news of the club breaching the salary cap things went from bad to worse, as a £5.4m fine and a 35 point deduction was turned into a 105 point deduction with certain relegation to the Championship, after a further 70 points were added to the ‘punishment’. The hate, and that isn’t too strong a word, the club and its fans had to face on social media was awful. Last I checked I wasn’t responsible for any money changing hands, nor were any other fans of the club.
The biggest highlight of an extended season was the quarter final win against Leinster in Ireland, I did a few podcasts with Ireland fans in the build up and was resolute in my support for my team. That game was a chance for a group of men to show what the club meant to them and a depleted team beat the team who hadn’t lost since their last meeting in the 2019 Final by 17 to 25. Personally it was an afternoon which saw a lot of shouting at the TV, one of the only meaningful games of the year once the punishment had been meted out. A small mention of the body punishing a team that’d broken the regulations by imposing something that wasn’t in those regulations – Irony personified.
Players had left and gone out on loan for June 30th, the end of the Premiership season in normal times, that gave us as Saracens fans something to shout for as Ben Earl and Max Malins in particular shone for their ‘new’ team, The Bristol Bears. Ben had been one of the players of the season before the virus intervened and his stock has continued to rise. Others have had a mixed time, with Nick Tompkins making his debit for Wales (why oh why Eddie?), Alex Lozowski enjoying his time in France and Nick Isiekwe shining in an under performing Saints team. Ben Spencer, a permanent player now at Bath has been performing well, but remains to be ignored by Eddie Jones.
Along with Saracens leaving the Premiership they lost their biggest sponsor, Allianz so no more trips to Allianz Park. News has filtered through about various companies becoming involved and just after Christmas news of a new main sponsor: StoneX Financial Ltd have signed up to a 4 year deal – Stonex Stadium it will be! Their CEO had the following to say
‘I’m delighted to announce a long-standing partnership with Saracens as both the club and StoneX have a relentless drive to achieve excellence. For both organisations the phrase ‘pounding the rock’ is ubiquitous and is one that both our traders and Saracens players can relate to. Hard work, patience and dedication to our clients is at the core of our value proposition as a global financial services organisation. These values are shared by Saracens Rugby Club, and are exemplified by their high performance culture and commitment to player welfare as well as their fan base. I’m excited to see how the partnership develops over the coming months and years
That makes for good reading as a fan! It’s great that 2021 has started with such positive news.
January 16th sees the start of the Trailfinders Cup, a 3 team competition that sees Ealing Trailfinders, Saracens and Doncaster fighting it out home and away to win said cup, as a warm up to a truncated Championship season which is due to start on March 16th. The competition will see 2 groups of 6 with the 2 teams finishing top plying each other home and away for the bog prize of promotion. The groups are as follows –
- Cornish Pirates
- Hartputy University
- Jersey Reds
- London Scottish
- Bedford Blues
- Doncaster Knights
- Ealing Trailfinders
With the Premiership being affected by Covid cancellations it remains to be seen if that league will relegate a team, I can imagine a legal challenge may well ensue as points are being decided based on which team has the Covid outbreak. Interesting times ahead!
For now, Saracens play Ealing Trailfinders, a ground I’m very used to visiting as a London Broncos fan, it’ll be a different experience for the away team. The 2 teams line up like this – Former teams listed
- 1 Kyle White – SA,Scottish Qual, Played for Western Province, Edinburgh & London Scottish – Age 26
- 2. Alun Walker – Scottish, Edinburgh, Nottingham – Age 30
- 3. Elliot Millar Mills – played for Yorkshire Carnegie, Edinburgh – Age 28
- 4. Bobby de Wee – SA Golden Kings, Southern Kings – Age 26
- 5. Simon Linsell – Hartpury College, Gloucester – Age 26
- 6. Kieran Murphy – Scottish/Wales Qual, Llandovery RFC, Brive, London Welsh – Age 32
- 7. Adam Korczyk – NZ, Aust Qual, Queensland Reds – Age 25
- 8. Rayn Smid (c) – SA Western Province, Cavalieri, Bristol – Age 28
- 9. Craig Hampson – Leeds Tykes, Bristol, Wasps – Age 30
- 10. Craig Willis – Newcastle Falcons – Age 25
- 11. Dean Hammond – SA, Worcester Warriors – Age 28
- 12. Pat Howard – SA, Western Province, Munster, Stormers, Northampton Saints, Dragons – Age 28
- 13. Fraser Strachan – Northampton Saints – Age 2§
- 14. Angus Kernohan – Irish, Ulster – Age 21
- 15. David Johnston – Irish, Munster – Age 26
- 1. Eroni Mawi – Fijian, Fijian Drua, Fijian Latul, Age 24
- 2. Tom Woolstencroft (c) – Bath, Rosslyn Park, London Irish – Age 26
- 3. Vincent Koch – SA, Blue Bulls, Pumas, Stormers, South Africa – Age 30
- 4. Jon Kpoku – Saracens – Age 21
- 5. Ollie Stonham – Saracens – Age 20
- 6. Jaco Venter – Namibian, Welwitschias, Western Province, Jersey Reds – Age 26
- 7. Andy Christie – Saracens – 21
- 8. Billy Vunipola – b Aust, Eng Qual – Wasps – Age 28
- 9. Aled Davies – Welsh, Llanelli – Age 28
- 10. Will Hooley – Moseley, Northampton Saints, Exeter Chiefs, Bedford Blues – Age 27
- 11. Rotimi Segun – Loughborough Students – Age 24
- 12. Duncam Taylor – Scottish, Bedford Blues, Scotland – Age 31
- 13. Dom Morris – Saracens – Age 23
- 14. Ben Harris – England 7’s – Age 20
- 15. Elliot Obatayinbo – Saracens – Age 20
Ealing (Trailfinders) were founded in 1871, their owner, Mike Gooley the owner of the club has built one of the best known brands in UK travel, Trailfinders, he has big plans for his team, he’s very keen to see them play Premiership rugby and has invested millions in the club. The game is being broadcast on a pay per view basis for £8.99 by 247.tv – I for one, can’t wait!