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Saracens On This Day
31 August, 2017 17:45
For a personal challenge I’ll be writing up a daily series to describe Saracens games over the years. We’re a grand old club and I thought it’d be nice to see how that performance has ebbed and flowed over the professional era.

I hope it’s enjoyed, but will keep them all on this thread in case not. I'd love to hear any fans' memories of these games for those that were there!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
31 August, 2017 17:46
Saracens On This Day - 31st August
31st August 1996 – Saracens 25 Leicester Tigers 23

Nowadays August rugby is limited to friendly games on boozy evenings and a chance for fans to watch the Southern hemisphere sides get thumped by the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship. But this hasn’t always been the case.

In the early days of English league rugby the structure remained very unsettled with the 1996-97 season featuring league play, European games, a knock-out league cup, and an anglo-welsh cup! To fit all this in the season crept into early August and Saracens lined up for the first time at their new Enfield Town ground on Southbury Road against last season’s runners-up Leicester Tigers

Saracens had come off a successful three game pre-season tour in Scotland beating Edinburgh Academicals, Hawick and Stirling County by significant margins. But last year’s 9th placed finish (in a league of 10) meant a tough game against a Tigers side featuring such luminaries as Graham Rowntree, Richard Cockerill, Martin Johnson, Dean Richards, Rory Underwood and even Austin Healey!

There’s a charm to reading old articles and recognising names that went on to greater things, and the Saracens side that day featured a few stars of its own – two international greats in Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella anchored the mid-field while a young Richard Hill started at 7, to be capped for the first time in the Spring of that season.

As for the game itself, a Kyran Bracken try and 17 points from Michael Lynagh’s boot gave Saracens a lead of 25-9 nearing the end of the second half, before Leicester bounced back with two converted tries. Only a Leicester penalty dropping short deep into injury time secured the win for Saracens

Despite the prediction of the Independent’s match report it was Leicester who were to have the better season overall and who were soon to start their rise to the summit of the European game. The first fully-professional season in English rugby was to end with Saracens mid-table in 6th. But the spark of professionalism was now lit and Saracens had made the first step from a park side to one that would reach the European summit 20 years later.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
The Bard (IP Logged)
31 August, 2017 19:43
Remember it well. Prematch entertainment consisted of a guy waving a curved sword about in front of the crowd!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
GazzaFez (IP Logged)
01 September, 2017 00:19
I was there that day. I confess i don't remember much about the match itself. What i do remember was rocking up at Enfield Town 'Stadium' totally enthralled by the idea of a 'stadium' after the tiny stand at Bramley Road. After walking through the gate my dreams were shattered after 30 seconds. I seem to remember standing for that game.

Mrs G tells me the site is now a cinema and has been for many years; don't ever go that way myself these days.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
mrangry (IP Logged)
01 September, 2017 06:13
Nigel Wray had just bought the Trocadero centre in central London, and decided to use its entertainment(!) characters in a parade round the ground. So the likes of Sonic, Mario and I believe Noddy were walked past the main stand. but the Saracen Warrior was the best. Probably a reasonably costumed facsimile of the 12th century warriors he was greeeted with derision and scorn ( among other things) and lasted just another match.
However, as Gazza says, fans were expected to stand, in cages no less, and were not allowed into the fans bar as that was for Enfield Town only. Changing rooms were portacabins to the west of the stand, and the general atmosphere was less than welcoming. Ah, the good old days.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
01 September, 2017 08:07
Saracens On This Day - 1st September

1st September 2002 – Bristol 30 Saracens 45

Early season games are always a time of optimism, and the 2002-03 season was no exception. Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford the ex-All Black captain had been appointed as head coach, Andy Goode had been signed as a star Fly Half from Leicester and Thomas Castaignede was returning from a lengthy lay-off. Saracens were well-placed to arrest the decline that had seen them finish 2nd in 1998, 3rd in 1999, 4th in 2000, 5th in 2001 before a horrible 10th placed finish in 2002.

For this day in the sunshine, the optimism held – with Saracens running out 30-45 winners over Bristol at the Memorial Ground.

Thomas Castaignede marked his return with a try after 7 minutes, while Andy Goode grabbed a full house with a try, a drop goal, two penalties and three conversions. It’s entertaining to read about Goode ghosting and easing clear of defenders considering his current reputation as a fan of pies and pints!

Saracens weren’t to have it all their own way that day, with two yellow cards and two late Bristolian tries but the early errors proved Bristol’s undoing even before Saracens winger Darragh O'Mahony scored two tries and Welsh centre Tom Shanklin added a fifth.

Even the local fans seemed to think 30-45 a fair result, but they weren’t to see much better all season. The relegation battle with Bath went down to the wire– in fact both sides seriously considered merging - but it was Bristol that were to go down.

For Saracens the optimism lasted another two weeks before a heavy loss to London Irish, results then struggled for the rest of 2002 before 6 league losses in a row at the start of 2003 scuppered any hopes of a Heineken Cup place. Perhaps unsurprisingly Shelford and his team were moved on in June!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
AlanE (IP Logged)
01 September, 2017 08:23
Andy Goode's reputation with the pies started way back in those days. I seem to recall Tim Horan making great play of the need for the team coach to make extra stops for burgers on the way back from more distant matches.



I was 17 miles from Graybridge before I was caught by the school leopard

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
TOKS (IP Logged)
01 September, 2017 09:00
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Saracens On This Day - 1st September
1st September 2002 – Bristol 30 Saracens 45

Early season games are always a time of optimism, and the 2002-03 season was no exception. Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford the ex-All Black captain had been appointed as head coach, Andy Goode had been signed as a star Fly Half from Leicester and Thomas Castaignede was returning from a lengthy lay-off. Saracens were well-placed to arrest the decline that had seen them finish 2nd in 1998, 3rd in 1999, 4th in 2000, 5th in 2001 before a horrible 10th placed finish in 2002.

For this day in the sunshine, the optimism held – with Saracens running out 30-45 winners over Bristol at the Memorial Ground.

Thomas Castaignede marked his return with a try after 7 minutes, while Andy Goode grabbed a full house with a try, a drop goal, two penalties and three conversions. It’s entertaining to read about Goode ghosting and easing clear of defenders considering his current reputation as a fan of pies and pints!

Saracens weren’t to have it all their own way that day, with two yellow cards and two late Bristolian tries but the early errors proved Bristol’s undoing even before Saracens winger Darragh O'Mahony scored two tries and Welsh centre Tom Shanklin added a fifth.

Even the local fans seemed to think 30-45 a fair result, but they weren’t to see much better all season. The relegation battle with Bath went down to the wire– in fact both sides seriously considered merging - but it was Bristol that were to go down.

For Saracens the optimism lasted another two weeks before a heavy loss to London Irish, results then struggled for the rest of 2002 before 6 league losses in a row at the start of 2003 scuppered any hopes of a Heineken Cup place. Perhaps unsurprisingly Shelford and his team were moved on in June!


Was that the season where Bath err "arranged" the result of the last match against an already safe London Irish to avoid the drop? Bath were dire but LI barely broke into a trot all game. Still, was a long time ago and I'm getting old.....

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
JO'G (IP Logged)
01 September, 2017 09:34
[quote Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas][b]For Saracens the optimism lasted another two weeks before a heavy loss to London Irish, results then struggled for the rest of 2002 before 6 league losses in a row at the start of 2003 scuppered any hopes of a Heineken Cup place.[quote]

That heavy loss to London Irish was the start of my serious rugby watching. I did play for the vets in the first game of that season for Saffron Walden against Ely but a split eye, 15 stitches and half my face puffed up when I had a job interview on the following Monday for a Bank made me realise I was too old to carry on playing. I've not regretted the journey ever since



Park team from London
Just a park team from London
European Champions
Just European champions

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
01 September, 2017 09:45
Their last match that season was against Newcastle, but still possible the result might have been nudged!

The relegation fight was hugely tight that year with 4 points separating the bottom 4 clubs - Bath won a last gasp victory over Irish, then lost to Bristol, then beat Newcastle.

Bristol went down because they lost to London Irish in their last game - even a LBP would have kept them up!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
TOKS (IP Logged)
01 September, 2017 10:11
There we go, I knew LI were in there somewhere. It must have been Newcastle not "trying their hardest"!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Rif (IP Logged)
01 September, 2017 11:08
Great idea for a thread Superman.



"My kicking coach tells me to imagine I am on the beach and that's what I did. I tried to be as relaxed as possible because we had the wind in our face and I didn't want to force it." - Marcelo Bosch, 06/04/15

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
02 September, 2017 09:34
Saracens On This Day – 2nd September
2nd September 2000 – London Irish 27 Saracens 22

We’ve had two wins so far, and that’s a very rosy summary of Saracens pre-2009. Today is time to celebrate a smaller success, our first losing bonus point!

The season had started well with a bonus point win at home to Gloucester and a win away to Bristol so we would have been optimistic about a trip to London Irish who had narrowly beaten Quins and lost to Saints the week before.

But this was London Irish’s first game at the Madjeski stadium, and a side captained by Conor O'Shea must have keen to impress their new fans.

A 21 year old Paul Sackey scored a length-of-the-field try early on. While a try for Kieron Dawson and 17 points from Jarrod Cunningham's boot were met by a full house for Thomas Castaignede who scored all our points including a 40-yard drop goal! Reports suggest we did well to hang on at the death under pressure from Irish to retain a 5 point gap and win our first LBP.

The rest of the season remained a series of close calls, with us just finishing 5th behind Saints to qualify for an away Quarter Final at Franklin’s Gardens in the first Zurich Championship – where we got smashed 45-17. Let’s hope for a better result today!

We’ve since won a further 66 losing bonus points since that day putting us 9th on the all-time list. Perhaps unsurprisingly Gloucester are top of this dubious leader board with 93 LBPs – they really are the close-but-no-cigar club.


I’m missing today’s Double Header game against Saints but I will be hoping for more than an LBP! The bookies have us as 1/4 favourites which seems extreme to me for a side that haven’t been tested much in pre-season. I’ll also be cheering for London Irish, great to see them back in the league not least when they are supported by Brendan Venter and will have our old boy Petrus du Plessis starting and have ex-Sarries Ben Ransom and Dave Porecki on the books as well.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
CB1959 (IP Logged)
02 September, 2017 10:59
Quote:
mrangry
Nigel Wray had just bought the Trocadero centre in central London, and decided to use its entertainment(!) characters in a parade round the ground. So the likes of Sonic, Mario and I believe Noddy were walked past the main stand. but the Saracen Warrior was the best. Probably a reasonably costumed facsimile of the 12th century warriors he was greeeted with derision and scorn ( among other things) and lasted just another match.
However, as Gazza says, fans were expected to stand, in cages no less, and were not allowed into the fans bar as that was for Enfield Town only. Changing rooms were portacabins to the west of the stand, and the general atmosphere was less than welcoming. Ah, the good old days.

I believe it was you dressed in the Noddy outfit Mr A🙈 ..I'll get me coat

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Squawker2 (IP Logged)
02 September, 2017 11:34
SWSBP - how does the LBP table look at the end of 08 season? We used to pick up hoards of them by my recollection, but obviously we seek to win games this day.

And Gloucester evidently decided they wanted better yesterday!



-----------------------------------------------------

Stuart Barnes is a Cock Womble

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
03 September, 2017 19:44
Saracens On This Day – 3rd September
3rd September 2016 – Saracens 35 Worcester Warriors 3

Yesterday’s game was an amazing start to the season, and not for the first time. Last season started with a thumping win over Worcester Warriors, who seem to be starting this season with yet more chaos – a big loss to Newcastle on Friday night and rumours swirling that they will be bought out by a consortium led by Ed Griffiths the ex-Saracens CEO.

Back in 2016 Saracens rolled into Twickenham as double champions but the first half didn’t go as planned. Leading 6-3 at the interval due to poor handling and three missed kicks from Lozowski - not for the last time…

In the second half a 10 minute burst of tries from George, Lozowski and Burger from three 5m lineouts gave the score-line a more expected shape, but it took until the 77th minute to score the bonus point try – a one-man belter from Spencer beating four defenders.

The Double Header has been a happy hunting ground for Saracens recently with our record now up to 6 TBP wins in a row, our game plan seems to fit the sunshine and wide open spaces that Twickenham provides. Unfortunately last year the Worcester game was our only chance to play there after missing out to Exeter in the semi-final. Mark McCall has spoken extensively about the frustration in the squad at failing to repeat the league title, and on the evidence of this weekend’s performance I don’t think many will be betting against them!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
03 September, 2017 19:52
Quote:
Squawker2
SWSBP - how does the LBP table look at the end of 08 season? We used to pick up hoards of them by my recollection, but obviously we seek to win games this day.

Before 2009-10 the top 5 LBPs:

Quins - 48
Newcastle - 48
Irish - 43
Saracens - 43
Gloucester - 41


After 2009-10 the top 5 LBPs:

Gloucester - 52
Exeter - 41
Wasps - 40
Bath - 39
Sale - 39

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
To Mega Therion (IP Logged)
04 September, 2017 10:50
Perhaps the admin could create front page stories for these? They're too good to sit on threads.



https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTMpKHV_mtVeNi9mSYLq3K1i9NvBslw7N8R4UvEbLchopTFrP2k
Eparistera Daimones

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
04 September, 2017 22:02
Saracens On This Day – 4th September
4th September 2004 – Saracens 13 Wasp 11

Fan reviews of the double header are mixed as always, but this hasn’t always been the case! The first double header, 13 years ago was reviewed by the BBC as a 'Great day, shame about the rugby’. Played in glorious September sunshine with 50,000 at Twickenham this was a view of the new English rugby landscape, even if the foundations of the national game had been rocked the day before with Clive Woodward’s resignation – itself following two days after Dallaglio’s temporary retirement from international rugby.

In the first game London Irish had beaten Quins 18-12 in a poor quality game under the watchful eye of a still amateur Wayne Barnes.

The second game offered a more interesting task. Wasps had won the Zurich Premiership/Heineken Cup double the season before and were a big ask for a Saracens side who had finished 10th. But Wasps rested some with Joe Worsley, Josh Lewsey and Alex King on the bench.

But Saracens had their own England stars front and centre with Richard Hill and Kyran Bracken both contributing heavily. Kevin Yates scoring the first try for Saracens after a break from Bracken. The French contingent were less successful, with Thomas Castaignède dropping the ball with the line in front of him. Still it was enough for a 10-3 lead at the interval.

With their replacements on Wasps played with better shape, scoring on 50 minutes through Ayoola Erinle but crucially Mark van Gisbergen missed the conversion. Alex King was more successful with a later penalty to give Wasps the lead for the first time. But Saracens were to hit back with a penalty from Nicky Little – enough to retain the lead into injury time. With Wasps final attack they botched their last chance, Joe Worsley taking contact rather than passing allowed Saracens to clear and secure our first win over Wasps in the last 10 attempts.

The win sparked the most successful season for Saracens in four years, eventually pipped by Bath to end in 5th place. Wasps took the result better ending the league in 2nd but winning the final again over the retiring Martin Johnson.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
05 September, 2017 08:26
Saracens On This Day – 5th September
5th September 2009 – Saracens 18 London Irish 14

In over 20 years we’ve only played once on this date, so luckily it’s an interesting one!

The start of Brendan Venter’s first full season had made all Saracens fans incredibly nervous, and there was a lot of uncertainty; rumours of a move to Fulham, rumours of a re-brand to London Tribe and the reality of 12 new players coming in to the squad.

Such was the turnover that this game brought debuts for Schalk Brits, Carlos Nieto, Rhys Gill, Ernst Joubert and Mouritz Botha. At the time all considered journeymen players each went on to join the 100 club, playing a huge part in the transformation of the team. Brits in particular has been an icon of the modern Saracens and deserves all the plaudits he is getting this week after he announced his retirement at the end of the season.

The game itself started with an early exchange of penalties, but the first try came from some quick thinking from Glen Jackson. A dragged down maul led to a penalty against Nick Kennedy in the centre of the pitch, Jackson looked to be preparing a kick at goal but tapped and went for the corner after Irish failed to organise their line. A second try followed with a cross-field kick to Andy Saull generating an 18-3 half time lead.

The second half was back to nerves, Brits and Delon Armitage both yellow carded for their parts in a 20 man brawl before Joubert collected another yellow card to take Saracens down to 13. Unsurprisingly Irish managed a try of their own in this period from George Stowers. Further penalties reduced Saracens lead to 4 points going into the final 10 minutes with Irish attacking strongly but it wasn’t to be and the men in black held out.

There was still a lot more to come from Venter’s side, with the Irish game starting a 10 game unbeaten run in the league that survived past Christmas. For the first time Saracens ended the season back at Twickenham 9 months later, that time with an agonising end. But the Venter ethos was already in evidence with Borthwick quoted after the game saying “The game plan is important but the willingness of the players to lay down for each other is what won the game. As long as character is everpresent we have a chance.”

The game plan has improved by leaps and bounds from that day, but the collectiveness remains. So while the recent retirement of three of that day’s squad (Neil de Kock, Andy Saull and Mouritz Botha) highlights the short nature of modern rugby careers, it’s so impressive that Goode, Barritt, Wyles and Brits are still playing with us 8 years later.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
JO'G (IP Logged)
05 September, 2017 08:33
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Saracens On This Day – 4th September
4th September 2004 – Saracens 13 Wasp 11
Fan reviews of the double header are mixed as always, but this hasn’t always been the case!

Not on this site - I've done all of the Fan reviews here and they are all distinctly average



Park team from London
Just a park team from London
European Champions
Just European champions

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
06 September, 2017 22:51
Saracens On This Day – 6th September
6th September 2009 – Saracens 34 Northampton Saints 7

Before the glorious weekend recedes too much into legend, and before my deadline for today expires I wanted to share a previous whooping for Saints - not just to twist the knife but to show things can change!

The 98/99 season started, our second at Vicarage Road, and 8000 fans came along to watch last season’s league runners-up and cup winners play a mid-table side.

The first half was much like last weekend! Debutant Alain Penaud (with or without a Renault) made a great start with a try and an assist in the first 20 minutes. All this despite Saracens collecting our first yellow card, Craig Yandell going to the bin for interference at the lineout.

The South African Saracens influence was strong as well though it was Gavin Johnson not Schalk Brits who got the plaudits – scoring 16 points with a try and no misses from the boot. Saracens were actually 34-0 up at one point but Saints scored a late consolation through Matt Dawson.

Another day, another thrashing of Saints, so much so cheerful. But it was Saints who had the last laugh – finishing second behind Leicester while Saracens came in third. I wonder what price you could get for Saints to manage second place this season?

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
07 September, 2017 09:23
Saracens On This Day – 7th September
7th September 1997 – Narbonne 16 Saracens 18

Saracens played their first competitive European game 20 years ago today! We had missed the first European Challenge Cup in 1996-97 after a late decision to expand the league to 12 teams. As such the promoted clubs (Northampton Saints and London Irish) took the European slots and Saracens were left without.

But a year later we were included, and were drawn in a group with Narbonne, Neath and the prior year’s runner-up: Castres.

The first game was down on the French Mediterranean coast, and was low-scoring with fly half Andy Lee kicking all our points. But it was a good to get an away win against a side who had made the semi-finals the year before. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be enough, Saracens eventually coming second in their pool on points difference after losing away to Castres. And there was no tournament for us the year after as English sides withdrew along with Cardiff and Swansea.

Twenty years later the teams have separated by a little more than two points, with Narbonne currently bottom of the Pro D2, while Saracens sit on top of the Premiership table. But Narbonne did have some successes on the way – beating Quins to the Challenge Cup in 2001. actually runners-up to Quins in 2001



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/09/2017 21:40 by Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
The Bard (IP Logged)
07 September, 2017 17:23
That Northampton game proved to be a very false dawn. Jeremy Thompson came from South Africa to replace Sella and looked sensational, scoring a try. He was being spoken off as an England player the next week, got injured the week after and was hardly seen again.
It wasn't the beginning of the end, but it was probably the end of the beginning!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/09/2017 21:13 by The Bard.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
08 September, 2017 22:47
Saracens On This Day – 8th September
8th September 2002 –Saracens 28 – Bath 3

I’m getting ready for my first trip to the Rec tomorrow, so this felt an appropriate, if hopeful, choice.

Fresh from out high-scoring season start against Bristol it was our first home game of the season. In their first round Bath had sneaked a 22-24 win away to London Irish in the first match so it was all to play for.

The Bath side featured 5 internationals in the pack and scored an easy penalty early on in the game, but it was to be their last points with Saracens then scoring their first try following breaks by Tom Shanklin and Kyran Bracken – finished by Ben Russell. Saracens then added three further penalties from Andy Goode and a try from Castaignède.

But the real drama of the first half went to Danny Grewcock, an ex-Sarrie red-carded for kicking Bracken in the face during a ruck. Everyone seemed confused by the decision with Bracken offering to serve as a friendly witness at the RFU disciplinary hearing and Saracens coach Shelford saying "The referee didn't have a clue what was going on."!

A poor quality second half with multiple replacements meant that Saracens missed out on a second TBP of the season, but the disciplinary proceedings were to be even more farcical with Grewcock first banned for 5 weeks before struck off in a second appeal.

We can hope tomorrow’s game features more fluent decision making from Wayne Barnes, and a similar scoreline would make the journey well worth it for me. The Saracens XV for tomorrow features only two changes from last week and an uber-bench with 3 lions in wait. Meanwhile Bath have drafted a tight-head to the bench who has been with the club less than 24 hours and was previously training to switch to Hooker.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
08 September, 2017 23:05
Saracens On This Day – 9th September
9th September 1995 – Leicester Tigers 31 Saracens 3

Another day with only one fixture in my list, but this one is not one to dwell on…
Saracens first game since promotion back to Courage League National 1 was always going to be a challenge, especially heading to the previous year’s champions - unbeaten at home for over a season.

Tigers scored 3 tries from wingers Steve Hackney and Rory Underwood as well as Outside Centre Ritchie Robinson. Plus 16 points kicked by full back John Liley. Andy Tunningley scored Saracens only response in what must have been a bump back to earth for a Saracens side that had easily won the second division the season before. But this was the reality of the two sides at the time - this was Saracens’ 17th trip to Welford Road, and the 17th without a win. It would be another 15 years before we would win our first game there at the 33rd attempt!

Leicester would go on to second in the league, pipped by Bath. While Saracens would lose all but one of their away league games that season, only beating the hopeless West Hartlepool to secure 9th place in a league of 10.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Sussex Phil (IP Logged)
09 September, 2017 11:02
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Saracens On This Day – 7th September 7th September 1997 – Narbonne 16 Saracens 18

... But Narbonne did have some successes on the way – beating Quins to the Challenge Cup in 2001.

Sorry, but I can't let this go unchallenged.

Narbonnes famous win over Quins

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
10 September, 2017 21:38
Quote:
Sussex Phil
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Saracens On This Day – 7th September 7th September 1997 – Narbonne 16 Saracens 18

... But Narbonne did have some successes on the way – beating Quins to the Challenge Cup in 2001.

Sorry, but I can't let this go unchallenged.

Narbonnes famous win over Quins

Whoops! I shall leave it in place as a reminder to QC more thoroughly - I apologise to our quartered neighbours!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
10 September, 2017 21:39
Saracens On This Day – 10th September
10th September 2011 – Bath 26 Saracens 28

Agonising heartbreak at the conclusion of yesterday’s game, so it’s only fair to choose a Bath loss today!

Saracens, despite being reigning champions, had lost to Wasps the week before at the double header - with a side depleted by 8 world cup call-ups. So at the Rec it was pleasing to see James Short score our first try of the season early on, although it was then his error that allowed Bath’s Abendanon to score at the other end.

The lead continued to see-saw throughout the game with multiple penalties and a 50m score from Carl Fearns, but Saracens were leading as the final minutes approached.

Much like yesterday it was Mako with a blunder, obstructing Tom Biggs in the 75th minute to allow Sam Vesty to put Bath into the lead. But that day the last laugh went to Sarries. Dan Hipkiss was penalised for being off his feet at a ruck, and a 19-year-old Owen Farrell took his tally for the day to 24 points with an injury time winner.

This was very much the tale of the rest of the 11-12 season for Bath, only winning 9 league games and ending the season in 8th. While Saracens ended up third that year after finding out the toughness required a defend a title.

But I shouldn’t be too mean to Bath as despite the result I had a great time at The Rec yesterday. It’s a beautiful place to watch rugby, and my neighbours where friendly and knowledgeable. But it’s probably the only game I’ve ever left both sunburnt and drenched! I’ll be heading back next year and hoping for a result more 2011 than 2017.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
10 September, 2017 22:11
Just one extra geeky note on today that highlights the consistency Saracens has shown in the McCall era. After this Bath game we climbed to 6th in the table and that was the last time we were so low down the log!

In fact our current 5th place is one of only twice in the last 6 years that we've *not* been in the top 4 at any point.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Sara'sman (IP Logged)
10 September, 2017 22:56
Thoroughly enjoying this series PJs but worried at how little of the detail I can recall without taxing the grey matter. Glad you enjoyed your first trip to the Rec - I have the same memories of my first trip there last year, but without the rain or sunburn!

After yesterday I'm looking forward even more to the report on the 98(?) Boxing day massacre at a packed(ish) Vicarage Road.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
10 September, 2017 23:10
Christmas is going to be a hard time to pick one game; we've played 11 times on the 27th of December!

The Bath win I cherish most is March 2009 where we scored the only 20 point TBP win - every kicker we tried as useless, Rod Penney scored a belter from behind our try line and then Don Barrell clinched the result at the death.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
10 September, 2017 23:12
Saracens On This Day – 11th September
11th September 2016 – Exeter Chiefs 13 Saracens 34

This game was a re-run of the 2016 Premiership Final from only 3 months earlier, but this time the form guide was far more varied. Exeter had lost away to Wasps the weekend before, while Saracens had spanked Worcester.

Both sides fielded similar sides to the final. Exeter missing Nowell, Woodburn and Ewers while Saracens were missing Farrell, Taylor, Fraser and Kruis. And like with that game Saracens started more strongly.

Soft tackling allowed Alex Lozowski to skip his way through for a fifth-minute try before Maitland added a second inside the first 20 minutes. Throughout the half Saracens gave a textbook demonstration of playing into a heavy wind, with the only blip of a trip by Wigglesworth earning him a yellow card. At half time 12-6 was a big lead mentally if not arithmetically.

Back at full complement and with the wind behind them Goode added a long range penalty, before Maitland collected his second and Saracens third try – finishing a four pass move in the Exeter 22. The Bonus Point try was a more thunderous effort: Billy breaking off the back of a scrum and breaking two tackles before off-loading to Wray who scored.

A consolation try for Cowan-Dickie gifted Exeter some momentum and they were still attacking with the clock red in search of a losing bonus point. But Spencer reacted quickest to a dropped pass and ran in unopposed for a final try. This was the first time in two and a half years that Exeter failed to collect even a losing bonus point, as they started the season with a run of bad results. But the faith shown in players and coach was vindicated, and everyone’s second favourite club finished the season with a first premiership title.

Match highlights

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Stacky (IP Logged)
11 September, 2017 06:06
I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time each day to write these out. It is great reading through some of the old memories.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
derbyshire fan (IP Logged)
11 September, 2017 10:12
What Stacky said - really enjoying this

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
MGB (IP Logged)
11 September, 2017 17:53
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Saracens On This Day – 8th September
8th September 2002 –Saracens 28 – Bath 3



But the real drama of the first half went to Danny Grewcock, an ex-Sarrie red-carded for kicking Bracken in the face during a ruck. Everyone seemed confused by the decision with Bracken offering to serve as a friendly witness at the RFU disciplinary hearing

The back story was that Bracken reported that Grewcock shouted something like 'Get Bracks' before kicking him in the face studs first. Certainly Bracken had a large stud-sized hole in his cheek that required considerable stitching and he was adamant it was deliberate. Bracken changed his mind (allegedly) following a call from Clive Woodward discussing his and Grewcocks, international careers and the need to support each other.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
AlanE (IP Logged)
12 September, 2017 07:10
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Christmas is going to be a hard time to pick one game; we've played 11 times on the 27th of December!
The Bath win I cherish most is March 2009 where we scored the only 20 point TBP win - every kicker we tried as useless, Rod Penney scored a belter from behind our try line and then Don Barrell clinched the result at the death.

How many times have we played on 25 December? This is too good so you don't escape Christmas Day, SWSBP. You could use another one of those.



I was 17 miles from Graybridge before I was caught by the school leopard

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
12 September, 2017 07:35
Quote:
MGB
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Saracens On This Day – 8th September
8th September 2002 –Saracens 28 – Bath 3



But the real drama of the first half went to Danny Grewcock, an ex-Sarrie red-carded for kicking Bracken in the face during a ruck. Everyone seemed confused by the decision with Bracken offering to serve as a friendly witness at the RFU disciplinary hearing

The back story was that Bracken reported that Grewcock shouted something like 'Get Bracks' before kicking him in the face studs first. Certainly Bracken had a large stud-sized hole in his cheek that required considerable stitching and he was adamant it was deliberate. Bracken changed his mind (allegedly) following a call from Clive Woodward discussing his and Grewcocks, international careers and the need to support each other.

Ah, now that's something the reports didn't mention!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
12 September, 2017 07:38
Quote:
AlanE
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
Christmas is going to be a hard time to pick one game; we've played 11 times on the 27th of December!
The Bath win I cherish most is March 2009 where we scored the only 20 point TBP win - every kicker we tried as useless, Rod Penney scored a belter from behind our try line and then Don Barrell clinched the result at the death.

How many times have we played on 25 December? This is too good so you don't escape Christmas Day, SWSBP. You could use another one of those.

I'm working on some plans for the few days missing a game - watch this space.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
12 September, 2017 13:00
Saracens On This Day – 12th September
12th September 1998 – Cardiff 40 Saracens 19

The addition of South African teams to the Pro12 has re-raised the conversation of the right structure for European rugby, with the new Pro14 already looking into further expansion into the USA and rumours of German, Spanish and Dutch sides following behind.

The real battle is over who will own the sport as it continues to expand – clubs or unions. England and France have followed the earlier model to commercial success but one that requires continuous aggressive moves against the traditions of the sport such as shortening of future Lions tour. While the union run competitions of Super Rugby and Pro Rugby continue to tinker with structures while the lack of relegation leads to some poor sides continuing to limp on. Today it can appear that this separation in models is baked into the sport in each country but this ignores the conflict of the late 90s that led us there.

Cardiff RFC had been founded in 1876, the same year as Saracens, while Swansea RFC were founded 4 years earlier. Both clubs had thrived through the amateur era with multiple games against touring international sides including wins over New Zealand and Australia. They also had well-established stadiums – Cardiff Arms Park nestled next door to the Welsh National Stadium.

This heritage allowed Cardiff to make a swift start to professionalism; they re-signed Jonathan Davies back from rugby league and were runners-up in the first season of the Heineken Cup. Meanwhile other traditional clubs struggled financially with Llanelli selling their ground to the WRU, while Neath went bust. The broad competition meant that club’s made little money from the league and could not continue to compete for players with the English clubs.

To the established clubs the solution was a British league – Swansea and Cardiff would join the premiership, while Llanelli, Newport, Bridgend and Neath would join the second division. This idea was eventually killed off by the WRU – but not before Cardiff and Swansea refused to sign a 10-year loyalty agreement with the WRU. Preferring instead to agree a series for friendly fixtures with the English premiership sides.

It’s hard to over-state the [url=https://web.archive.org/web/20050825071657/[www.telegraph.co.uk]]chaos[/url], but with less than three weeks to go fixtures were not announced and the size of the top league hadn’t been agreed. Only 8 days before the first game was the plan finalised, with the clubs selling their own TV rights to the friendlies to the BBC. Both the RFU and WRU refused to sanction the games so referees were to be filled by retired or junior officials.

Cardiff’s first home game was to be against Saracens – a huge test for the new set-up. Saracens were on a 9 match unbeaten streak that involved winning the Tetley’s Bitter Cup, a draw at Welford Road and no less than three defeats of Northampton Saints. 10,021 fans turned up, 1,821 more than attended the previous week's entire Welsh Premiership programme and they got the result they wanted.

Saracens attacked with the wind in the first half and Alain Penaud led a series of Saracens attacks supported by a strong scrum to put them 12-9 up at half time. Penaud would even have scored more except for a try-saving tackle from Liam Botham (son of cricketer Ian). But in the second half Welsh captain, and future Lions attack coach, Rob Howley scored the first try. Matthew Wintle and Simon Hill then added two more – meanwhile the Welsh flu-half Lee Jarvis added a total of 25 points from the boot. The Saracens DoR end of game interview highlights the quality of our performance but also makes me wish for more honesty from the current post-game interviews: “Basically, we had our @#$%& kicked.”

So the day belonged to Cardiff, but they never did get their British league, reconciling with the WRU in May 1999 on the compromise of a Welsh-Scottish league that formed the genesis of the current Pro14.

It’s easy to wonder what might have been had the rebellion worked out. Would the Welsh clubs have risen to the top of a combined premiership? Would it have encouraged the Scottish sides to join as well? Or would it have been a catastrophe for rugby in Wales if sides struggled to compete?

But for one day at least, 19 years ago, the plan ahead was clear.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
mrangry (IP Logged)
13 September, 2017 07:10
A game the Cardiff fans enjoyed, I remember being in a pub afterwars where several shook the hands of the (then) few travelling Sarries fans and thanked them for coming. But the main talking point was the reffing of these games- nothing new there then. No major refs were allowed to adjudicate so "old" refs were used - think Brian Campsall reffing now. This led to the other game that season in Swansea being reffed by Mr Bullard- so off the pace substitue an O for the U- that he had to ask touch judges what had happened at times, as he hadn't seen it. No TMOs then, so no GH to make it up as he went along, though the difference between interpretations between English and Welsh refs then was just as bad in some people's minds.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
13 September, 2017 11:40
Saracens On This Day – 13th September
13th September 1983 – Chris Wyles

There are 11 days between the 31st of August and the 31st of May where Saracens haven’t played a game in the last 23 seasons. This is the first one. So I need someone to step in to fill the gap, and who better than the ultimate utility back - Chris Wyles – because the 13th of September is his birthday – 34 today!

Wyles is the second most experienced member of the current squad with 228 appearances and more than 60 tries having joined Saracens in 2008 from Northampton Saints. He’s appeared in the Centres, at Full Back and on the Wing often moving around to incorporate the rest of the squad.

Born in the USA, Wyles moved to the UK at 11 and went to school in Hertfordshire, then went to Nottingham University to take a degree in politics. It was during this time he was picked up by Tigers academy and then Nottingham RFC before moving on to Northampton for 9 appearances in the 2006-07 season. Saints were relegated at the end of that season but Wyles had played well enough to get the attention of the US Sevens selectors and he was picked for the Hong Kong Sevens before getting drafted into the 2007 world cup squad.

At the world cup he started all the US games and even scored against South Africa. While the Americans lost their four pool games they were competitive against England, Samoa and Tonga and justified their inclusion with some fine scores. While it was Takudzwa Ngwenya who took the plaudits for 2007 Try of the Year, Wyles caught the eye of Eddie Jones and picked up a Saracens contract for 2008-09.

My memories of his early appearances for us are as Mr Dependable, particularly under the high ball. In the kick heavy rugby we played in the late 2000s this was crucial. Despite never getting the plaudits of fellow back three players Goode, Strettle or Ashton he’s been a main stay of the side – particularly in big games. Wyles is one of only four players to have started each of the three Aviva and two European Cup winning finals (Send me your guesses below on the other three). Solid defensively, aggressive going forwards and always, always consistent – he is really a classic Saracen unsung hero.

The same is true internationally - in the 2011 world cup Wyles kicked the winning points in the US’s victory over Russia. Before another 4 appearances as squad captain in 2015 - he leads the US side in both World Cup appearances and tries. He eventually announced his internal retirement from XVs in 2016 on 54 caps, allowing him to focus on Sevens. After shifting to play predominately on the wing for Saracens Wyles made the Olympic Sevens team in Rio 2016 as the 8th oldest player in the tournament. The US finished 9th defending their gold medal from 1924.

Not content with winding down his career as an unofficial spokesperson for any Saracens game with an American connection, Wyles has partnered with Alistair Hargreaves to launch Wolfpack beer – currently available in 37 bars across London. Hargreaves can now focus on the company full time after an unfortunate early retirement but as Sarries fans we can hope it will be a while yet before Wyles joins him.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Roger G (IP Logged)
13 September, 2017 12:33
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
...Send me your guesses below on the other three

Barritt, Goodey & Faz?

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
13 September, 2017 12:50
Quote:
Roger G
Quote:
Superman wears Schalk Brits pyjamas
...Send me your guesses below on the other three

Barritt, Goodey & Faz?

Got it in one!

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Roger G (IP Logged)
13 September, 2017 13:30
smiling smiley

Great thread SWSBP! Hats off to you.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
MGB (IP Logged)
13 September, 2017 19:55
Quote:
mrangry
the main talking point was the reffing of these games- nothing new there then. No major refs were allowed to adjudicate so "old" refs were used - think Brian Campsall reffing now. This led to the other game that season in Swansea being reffed by Mr Bullard- so off the pace substitue an O for the U- that he had to ask touch judges what had happened at times, as he hadn't seen it. No TMOs then, so no GH to make it up as he went along, though the difference between interpretations between English and Welsh refs then was just as bad in some people's minds.

I remember that the ref was particularly bad for the Cardiff game. He let a lot go, especially foul play from the Cardiff team, and the Saracens management were incensed. I thought that we were worth a decent lead in the first half, but for the ref, but fell away in the second half.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
13 September, 2017 23:16
Saracens On This Day – 14th September
14th September 1997 – Saracens 26 – Castres 21

20 years ago today was our first ever game at Vicarage Road. Saracens had only moved to Enfield Town at Southgate Road the year before, but bigger plans required a newer stadium. So a club that had previously moved 4 miles east now moved 17 miles west to settle in Watford.

The season had started with wins away to Sale and to Narbonne, and our second ever European game was against the prior year’s Challenge Cup runner-up: Castres. It had been decided to condense all pool matches into September and October but games were now played home and away unlike the year before.

I can’t find a review, but the game seemed to go well with scores for both Saracens centres: Ravenscroft and Sella and for Wallace on the wing. Lynagh scored the other 11 points from the boot. It’s fun to see that George Chuter started, since he was still playing all the way until 2012 when Leicester came to Vicarage Road for the last time.

Also fun to note is that the Castres reply came from a 22 year old Frenchman who had won the Heineken cup the season before with Toulouse. YEP, Thomas Castaignède was there for the first game at a stadium he was later to call home. Scoring 3 penalties and converting Sarramea’s try.

Saracens’ auspicious start to the season continued, and they were to win their first 8 games at Vicarage Road, though a heavy away loss to Castres deprived us of further progression in the Challenge Cup.

Overall Saracens played 236 times at Vicarage Road from that day until 2013. Seeing the highs of sell-out wins over Newcastle in 98 to stay in the title race, over Ospreys in a Heineken Cup quarter-final when no-one gave us a chance and over Gloucester in the semi-final on our way to a first Premiership title. But it also saw some horrible games: a 3-42 hammering from Wasps in 2003, a blitzkrieg by Clermont in 2012 and multiple challenge cup games where the attendees would have fit fine into Bramley Road!

Still, we won far more than we lost (record 175-4-57) and I bet it’s where many of us first saw Saracens play (including me). So for all the cold concrete and the ramshackle east stand it’ll always keep a place in my heart.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
Squawker2 (IP Logged)
14 September, 2017 08:59
I hadn't realised we spent long enough post Long Knives to bring up such a good record - we must actually have been playing fairly well beforehand...shame those don't seem to stick in the head so well!



-----------------------------------------------------

Stuart Barnes is a Cock Womble

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
15 September, 2017 22:51
Saracens On This Day – 15th September
15th September 2001 – Bath 20 - Saracens 27

A last minute post to describe a last minute winner 16 years ago for Saracens. In a poor quality game against Bath, played under the cloud of the events 4 days earlier, Saracens managed to raise the crowd right at the death.

An 18-year-old Olly Barkley had kicked Bath to a 3-9 halftime lead before Saracens pulled the score line back level early in the second half, later moving ahead via a try from Brett Sparg in the corner. Bath reclaimed the lead with a try from Simon Danielli from a kick through by Mike Tindall. Further penalties took the score to 20-20 with Saracens looking to have secured a draw with two minutes left. Despite Saracens being down to 14 men, second row Kieran Roche having been sin-binned after 12 seconds on the pitch for killing the ball, there was still time remaining. A Bath infringement, and a quick tap from Saracens' replacement scrum half Nick Walshe set Horan on his way for a 70 yard break to glory to win a second game in a row.

But it’s not all glitz and glamour today… I also found this amazing programme from a Saracens B team fixture back in 1973! No idea what the score was for that one, but I’m happy to see our next fixture was away to Barnet! I’m happy to say that the Barnet Elizabethans are still playing at Byng Road – only 5 miles from Allianz Park. In fact their first team still maintain this fixture – they are playing Saracens Amateurs on the 28th of October in Herts/Middlesex 1.

 
Re: Saracens On This Day
15 September, 2017 23:20
Saracens On This Day – 16th September
16th September 2000 – Sale 6 - Saracens 51

One of Saracens’ 10 best league winning margins and the third time in a row we had put 50 points on the Manchester side. Let’s hope it’s a lucky omen for tonight’s game against Falcons.

The week before we had beaten Leicester 17-9 at Vicarage Road in a mixed start to the season, while Sale had recently announced their purchase by Brian Kennedy hoping to arrest the team’s slide that had seen them come 11th the season before. With plans for the transfer of Jason Robinson from rugby league already announced. Sale were riding high in the league having won 4 of their opening 5 games.

But in this game Sale conspired to lose 8 of their own lineouts and Saracens retaliated in kind scoring 8 tries. It did take a while for Saracens to get going – Sale’s Nicki Little try disallowed for obstruction in the 8th minute. But 20 minutes later Thomas Castaignede crossed for our first, before he provided the scoring pass to Brett Sparg 4 minutes later for the second. A 12-3 halftime lead didn’t please new coach Francois Pienaar who delivered some appropriate words alongside the oranges in the break.

Second half tries followed for Scott Murray, Duncan McRae, Thomas Castaignede again, Bill Davidson, Paul Wallace and Gerald Arasa. It was only poor kicking that prevented a score over 60 points.

The result seemed to prove a turning point for Sale, who only won another 4 games in the remaining 16 games, eventually finishing tenth. The 2001-02 season was brighter, and saw them finish second in the league and win the European Shield. Sarries’ record was better, but still only enough for fifth.

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