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Saracens

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Edward Griffiths

Edward Griffiths

The Board of Saracens and Edward Griffiths announced that, following seven very successful years with the club, the CEO will be leaving at the end of the season to pursue new opportunities.

“After seven years as CEO Edward is moving on,” Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray said.

“He has created and leaves an outstanding and beautiful new permanent home for Saracens, and a team of people with a real caring and community focus and we will build upon this legacy.

“Edward will forever be a Saracen and always welcome amongst his friends at Allianz Park.”

 

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Saracens produced another stunning comeback to beat Northampton Saints 24 / 20 in a tense and nervy LV Cup semi-final.

Trailing 13 / 5 at half time, Saracens flew out of the traps to run into a 21 / 13 lead with Mike Ellery’s stunning solo effort a particular highlight as Saracens march on to next weekend’s LV Cup final at Franklin’s Gardens.

Ben Spencer was in typical metronomic form from the kicking tee, kicking 14 points in blustery conditions in north London.

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Michael Rhodes

Michael Rhodes

Saracens are delighted to announce the signing of Michael Rhodes from the Stormers.

Michael Rhodes, the Stormers and Western Province forward, will join Saracens at the start of next season, adding South African power to the wolf pack.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “We have some time ago identified Michael as a player who could  make significant contribution to the squad, playing in the second row or the back row, carrying the ball and we are confident we can provide an environment where he will realise his full potential. We’re delighted he will be joining us next season.”

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SaracensVodacom Blue BullsSaracens (0) 26 / 39 (13) Blue Bulls (Final Score)

Saracens and the Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in an inter-hemisphere match which also served as

warm-up for the Bulls at Allianz Park, London at 17:15 SA Time (15:15 BST & GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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Cell C SharksOn Thursday 5 February, 2015 the Cell C Sharks will play Toulon in a pre-season friendly at the Stade Mayol in a North vs South Challenge match.

This match gives fans the opportunity of seeing the likes of Mouritz Botha and Renaldo Bothma (forwards) and Paul Perez and Waylon Murray (backs) in action for the Cell C Sharks, along with team regulars in a competitive pre-season hit-out against the four time French National competition winners and back-to-back Heineken Cup champions in 2013 and 2014.

 

The following players make up the touring squad to France:

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SaracensVodacom Blue BullsFlanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when they take on Saracens in a friendly match outside London. The Blue Bulls named their final travelling squad on Wednesday, just before departure to England.

Regular captain Pierre Spies will only play off the bench in his return to first class rugby after more than 12 months on the sidelines; hence the decision to employ Stegmann’s proven leadership skills. The former Springbok flanker captained the Vodacom Blue Bulls with great success in the ABSA Currie Cup competition in the past.

Another former captain, Victor Matfield, will travel to London as part of the coaching team and not as a player and will not be in action over the weekend.

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Vodacom Blue BullsSaracensThree-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls won’t find that their pre-season campaign gets any easier when they tackle English Premiership side Saracens at their Allianz Park, north London stronghold on Saturday.

The game (Kick-Off 17:15 SA Time, 15:15 BST & GMT) is due to be screened live on SuperSport 1 and CSN, after the Loftus-based side played out a 30 / 13 win minus the glare of television cameras against Super Rugby rivals the Cheetahs in Polokwane last Saturday.

There are few better ways to get European-stationed expatriate rugby players’ juices flowing than by pitting them against South African-based compatriots, and it seems Sarries – currently 3rd in the Premiership behind Northampton and Bath – will be in a position to field several against the presumably still rusty Bulls.

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European Rugby Champions CupJake White’s Montpellier bounced back from their comprehensive loss away from home to Glasgow Warriors last week by beating fellow French team Toulouse in their final European Rugby Champions Pool 4 match on Sunday. Montpellier won a closely contested match by the narrowest of margins with a final score of 27 / 26 in their favour.

This victory for Montpellier meant that Saracens qualified for the last eight of the Cup in spite of losing their last Pool 1 match against pool winners Clermont Auvergne. The score in that match Clermont Auvergne 18 / 6 Saracens.

The 5 pool winners along with the 3 best second placed team advanced and Saracens made it through as the last qualifying with the lowest amount of points from their 6 matches (17). Had Toulouse won they would have qualified as Pool 4 winners along with Bath who won their Pool 4 match against Glasgow Warriors. Toulouse also ended the pool stage on 17 points but Saracens got through via a superior points difference, +14 versus Toulouse’s +2.

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Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown and Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter (right)

Kelly Brown is determined to work his way back into the Scotland squad after being overlooked for the Six Nations.

The 32-year-old former captain failed to make Vern Cotter’s 32-man pool but is convinced he can still add to his 64 caps.

“It’s clearly disappointing, but selection is a funny thing,” Brown said.

“I want to play for Scotland and I certainly feel I can play for Scotland. I don’t feel over the hill yet.”

Saracens flanker Brown began last season’s Six Nations campaign as captain, although he was dropped later in the tournament. Since then Cotter has replaced Scott Johnson as head coach and Brown believes he has plenty still to offer, with the World Cup later in the year.

Brown has played once under Cotter, in a 19-17 win over Canada in June, but was not selected for the Autumn internationals.

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Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Saracens

Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Blue Bulls

Derick Hougaard will have a foot in both camps next Saturday, as Saracens face South African giants the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Allianz Park.

The fly-half, who played for both Saracens and Sanlam Challenge opponents the Vodacom Blue Bulls, has warned Saracens that their latest South African opponents will pose their greatest threat to their 100% record against South African opposition.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls have named their team to face the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane on Saturday.

Saracens & the Blue Bulls have also published a Vodacom Blue Bulls squad for the encounter the following week in London.

 

Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane:

New Vodacom Bulls recruits Lappies Labuschagne and Trevor Nyakane will face their former Toyota Cheetahs teammates in Polokwane on Saturday when the two Vodacom Super Rugby sides clash in a friendly match in the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Flanker Labuschagne and Nyakane, who was selected at loosehead prop, moved north at the start of the season and will be part of the first hit-out of the season for the Pretoria side.

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Concussion Gadget

Owen Farrell wearing the impact sensors

Saracens players wore impact sensors during the match against London Irish on Saturday, launching the first element of the club’s ground-breaking programme to determine the effects of concussion on rugby players. The gadgets measure the force and direction of impact to the head, and are taped behind the ear lobe.

Edward Griffiths, chief executive, said: “We’re collecting data because we want answers. In simple terms, we don’t want to meet our players in 20 or 25 years’ time, to find them suffering from dementia or any similar condition, and to reflect we suspected something was going on but we didn’t really know. We want to know.”

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Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson

The Cell C Sharks have lured a New Zealand Sevens player to Durban as they continue to bolster their own ranks.

New Zealand-born wing Jack Wilson has signed for the Sharks from English Premiership club Saracens and will immediately join the Super Rugby squad.

The talented wing, 25, arrived in London in December 2012 and has scored 6 tries in 19 appearances for Saracens.

His arrival follows shortly after confirmation that Saracens’ England lock Mouritz Botha will also make Durban his home next year. Botha, unlike Wilson, will only join the coastal franchise in January.

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Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha has been reluctantly released by Saracens to join The Sharks in South Africa, with effect from 1 January 2015.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “Mouritz has been a massive part of our squad and our culture for the past five and a half seasons, and we are very sorry to see him leave. However, this is a great opportunity to play for one of the top teams in the Super XV, and we wish him, Natasha and young Joshua well.”

Botha joined Saracens from Bedford Blues in 2009, has played 142 matches for the club and has also been capped 10 times by England.

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Gilbert Rugby BallNine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.

Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.

In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.

On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.

It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.

Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.

 

The results of the weekend are as follows:

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SaracensSaracens have named a powerful 23-man squad for the north-south clash against Western Province at Allianz Park on Sunday.

Alistair Hargreaves will lead the side, as Saracens face the recently crowned South African Currie Cup champions.

“Western Province are one of the strongest sides in South Africa, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge,” Sarries Director of Rugby Mark McCall said.

“We will field our strongest possible side.”

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DHL WPA 24-man DHL Western Province squad will leave Cape Town for London on Thursday, as the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup champions get set to take on top English club Saracens in the Sanlam Private Investments Challenge this coming weekend.

DHL WP won their second ABSA Currie Cup title in three years less than two weeks ago and they are now preparing to face up to last season’s European Cup and Premiership runners-up on their home turf at Allianz Park in North London on Sunday.

Sixteen members of the victorious DHL WP matchday squad from two Saturdays ago will make the trip to take on Saracens, with new forward signings Bongi Mbonambi, Vincent Koch and Wilco Louw joining the likes of Oli Kebble, Jurie van Vuuren, Dillyn Leyds, Pat Howard and EW Viljoen in the selection mix.

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Aviva PremiershipWasps have set the standard and now they must recreate it, says director of rugby Dai Young after watching his side battle to a 20-16 victory over reigning Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Northampton Saints.

A low-scoring first half saw the sides locked at 3-3 going into the break but tries from Ashley Johnson and Tom Varndell meant Ben Foden’s late score for Northampton was nothing more than consolation

And after their heartbreaking 34-28 loss to Saracens at Twickenham in last weekend’s opener, Young admitted he was delighted with Wasps’ response at Adams Park.

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SaracensWhen David Strettle crossed the try line in the final seconds of our game against London Wasps at Twickenham last weekend, there was a sick sense of deja vu.

With Saracens losing by a point, the TMO was promptly called upon for his expert opinion and, much like the brutal closing seconds of last year’s final, we stood around helplessly as the grounding of the ball was dissected from every imaginable angle….

But let me take you take you back a few weeks to the Lollapalooza music festival, where the team got together after a brutal week’s training in a baking hot Chicago.

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Aviva PremiershipWith the new English domestic season kicking off on Friday, we take a look at the prospects of each of the 12 clubs competing for the Premiership title. Let’s get started.

Saracens:

The pioneers of modern English rugby, Saracens have established themselves as one of Europe’s leading teams over the last few years.

Making three Premiership Finals in the last five years along with contesting Europe’s showpiece last season underlines their rise to the top of the game. Unafraid to experiment off the field, 2013/2014 saw Saracens revolutionise their play on it by throwing off the shackles and producing attacking rugby that was hard to resist. More of the same please.

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Alistair Hargreaves

Alistair Hargreaves

Alistair Hargreaves has been appointed as the new Saracens captain. The Springbok lock forward, 28, succeeds Steve Borthwick, who retired at the end of last season.

The former Sharks man has been with the Saracens since 2012, born and schooled in Durban he played for the Sharks from under-19 level.

He has been capped four times for the Springboks, the last of those coming in the 2011 Tri-Nations tournament.

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Aviva Premiership LogoNorthampton SaintsAlex Waller’s try in the last minute of extra time won Northampton their first Premiership title with a dramatic victory over Saracens.

Saints led 7-6 at the break through Ben Foden’s converted try, with Owen Farrell replying with two penalties.

Farrell added a further penalty before George Pisi crossed for Northampton’s second converted try.

Marcelo Bosch’s try levelled the scores but Charlie Hodgson’s kick hit the post to send the game into extra time.

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Aviva PremiershipNorthampton Saints have named captain Dylan Hartley among their replacements for Saturday’s Premiership final against Saracens at Twickenham.

But the hooker’s England team-mate Mako Vunipola is missing for Sarries having had surgery on a dislocated patella.

Saints are aiming for their first-ever Premiership title, after losing to rivals Leicester in last year’s final.

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