CHRIS FOY: Leicester may deserve the title… but winning the Saracens is the perfect redemption

Leicester has won the league and they truly deserve that trophy, but now the pivotal title of the Tigers’ Premiership against the Saracens promises to be a fascinating tale of redemption.

This column advocates due recognition for the top-ranked club after the season of consistency, but that old school idea is gone – will never come back.

At least what awaits this year’s final at Twickenham is a matching match between two of the strongest teams in English rugby looking to end the revival mission in the best way possible.

Ben Earl scored the first attempt against Arlequins to help send the Saracens to the Premiership Final

Ben Earl scored the first attempt against Arlequins to help send the Saracens to the Premiership Final

The Saracen revival was astonishing, but there was no shock to anyone with the weakest understanding of their fierce spirit of unity and rebellion.

They were relegated as punishment for previous wage cap offenses, but the way they committed their exile in the championship was a merit to them and an immediate return was inevitable.

If Mark McCall’s award-winning team finishes its mission on Saturday, under the circumstances, it must be their finest hour. It would be a triumph of loyalty and a deep desire to make amends from the past.

Most importantly, the squad did not disperse when punishment came; the elite core remained massively, served its time with good grace, and returned to top flight with a new purpose.

England international Jamie George has appeared in over 200 Saracen performances in a prostitute

England international Jamie George has appeared in over 200 Saracen performances in a prostitute

When asked if he ever doubted that they would reach these heights again, England’s castle, Maro Itoje, said, “No; it was never on my mind. Regardless of the situation, I knew the quality of the staff we had. I didn’t know when, but I had no doubt that we would eventually be back. It’s a very special club and as players we just want to pay you back. “

In other respects, climbing Leicester from the depths was also extraordinary.

If the Saracens had not scored a total of 105 league points in 2020, the Tigers would have advanced to the championship this year.

The eternal finaliters were in a state of chaos when Steve Borthwick took command, but turned them around faster than they could have hoped. You will feel as if a certain natural order has been restored to see them again and their tremendous support at Twickenham.

George Ford and Tommy Reffell celebrate Leicester's victory at Northampton in the semi-finals

George Ford and Tommy Reffell celebrate Leicester’s victory at Northampton in the semi-finals

Inspiring Saturday’s victory over local rival Northampton, George Ford wondered how far Leicester had come, saying, “We were a million miles away two years ago. That was the reality. I cannot praise Steve and the coaches enough for what they did. It’s nothing mysterious or magical, it was a lot of hard work, a clear way of playing and we built a community. We will fight for ourselves.

It should be an amazing competition in South West London, but the Saracens must be favorites in a one-off game given their pedigree.

They have several Lion and World Cup finalists in their ranks, as well as Premiership footballer Ben Earl and a wonderful new “find” next to him in the back row – Samoan Theo McFarland.

Leicester will be a serious threat. No team led by Ellis Genge and led by Ford – both of them having their last appearances in the Tigers ahead of the summer moves – will not run out of heart or nous. And no team led by Borthwick will be under-prepared.

But the Saracens should just have too much. Their finest hour is now at hand.

Following the Saracens’ victory over the Harlequins, Owen Farrell spoke of a difficult balance for players who have to defend themselves aggressively but avoid punishment by suppressing head contact.

His side lost three players to the basket on Saturday for high sliding tackle, while Quins, Leicester and Northampton were all given one yellow card for similar offenses.

The zero tolerance rules in place continue to have a big impact on the big games and England captain Farrell said: “You don’t want people to be thrown into the trash. With a lot of them (enemies), nothing is too high, nothing malicious, there is immersion and head contact.

Saracen captain Owen Farrell lost three of his men to the basket on Saturday for high sliding tackles

Saracen captain Owen Farrell lost three of his men to the basket on Saturday for high sliding tackles

“You can slow down a lot of contacts and find something. I hope it is going in the right direction, the game is safe and there is common sense too.

Explaining the players’ troubles, he added: “We know what we can and cannot, but you still have to intend to move forward in your defense. If you’re still passive, you likely won’t get elected next week. It’s a very fine line, and I don’t think people fully understand when TV slows down how fast these decisions are. ”

The era of Leinster’s dominance in the United Rugby Championship is over – and this is a testament to the immediate influence of South African teams in the renewed, enlarged league.

While there have been concerns about the logistical challenges of the inter-hemispheric event, praise the Bulls and Stormers for shaking up the established agenda.

Leinster has dominated for so long – winning six of the last nine titles without having to commit to the task fully.

The era of Leinster's dominance in the United Rugby championship is over

The era of Leinster’s dominance in the United Rugby championship is over

On this basis, the gift of the newcomers is to revitalize a healthy sense of unpredictability, which is good news.

The dramatic scenes in Cape Town where the stormtroopers triumphed over Ulster in front of a huge crowd to hold the final against their Pretoria countrymen showed that the URC project could initiate a revival of a provincial South African game.

This, in turn, could reduce the harmful exodus of players to other countries to become a catalyst for rugby advancement.

How good to hear Henry Arundell on The Mail on Sunday – giving an insight into his background and ambition for oval football in his first interview with London rookie Irish defender who has become the new English sensation this season.

The public wants to hear from players and be able to engage with them, so it’s important that the timid cautious culture of the game is relaxed enough for that to happen.

Bright celebrities can sell sports if they are allowed to, without compromising the ethos based on the collective over the individual.

Just reading Arunell’s account of his miraculous attempt against Toulon provides a fascinating insight that arouses interest. If they can be trusted from an early age to go for a walk (a term misleading given Arundell’s speed in full flight), they should be trusted to talk as well.

Fullback and 19-year-old Henry Arundell have had a great season in London's Irish

Fullback and 19-year-old Henry Arundell have had a great season in London’s Irish

The final word – Will Skelton’s bypassing Australia squad next month against England is a reminder of the political and financial factors that are undermining the sport.

La Rochelle Castle should be a monstrous asset for the Wallabies in their three home tests against Eddie Jones’s side, so his absence means the hosts will be downsized.

It was similar last fall when Australia came to Twickenham without Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete, due to policies restricting the choice of foreign players.

Similar rules have been adopted by most leading nations, but they devalue the tests outside of the World Cup – just as club games are devalued when there are clashes with international windows during the season.

Measures to protect domestic play in different countries by discouraging the free movement of players are understandable but also detrimental to the overall box office attractiveness of rugby.

Coaches who have the freedom to choose all capable players at will remain a distant fantasy, unfortunately …

La Rochelle's Will Skelton will not face England in a series of three tests in Australia next month

La Rochelle’s Will Skelton will not face England in a series of three tests in Australia next month

Leave a Comment