The Saracens Football Club is a British professional rugby team based in the city of London, England, which plays in the Premiership Rugby, the highest rugby competition in that nation.
Apart from competing in the Aviva Premiership, the Saracens have also participated in the National Cup (EDF Energy Trophy) before this competition was restricted only to National Division teams. He also participates in the European Rugby Cups (currently in the European Challenge Cup, but has also participated in the Heineken Cup) as well as in the Anglo-Welsh Cup (LV = Cup). Their colors are black and red, their stadium is the Allianz Park, formerly they played in Vicarage Road and their fans and players are known by the name of “The Sarries”.
The Saracens were founded in 1876 by the Old Boys of the Philological School of Marylebone, London (later became the St Marylebone Grammar School). The Saracens joined the “neighbor” club of the Crusaders two years later. Its name could come from the interest of its promoters to be shown as an invincible team, as the troops of Saladin, and in contrast to the name of their neighbors: crusaders against Saracens. In 1892 the Saracens moved from Crown Lane, Southgate, to Firs Farm, Winchmore Hill and since then played in nine different fields before moving in the 1939-1940 season to Bramley Road (although the war did not allow them to play there until 1945) .
After the opening game against Blackheath they had to wait another nine years before the Harlequins offered to be included in their annual calendar. The Saracens found it difficult to get matches against first-class teams because the Bramley Road facilities were “very poor”.
The club produced a lot of internationals in the pre-league era, such as hooker John Steeds who was five times international for England from 1949 to 1950, Vic Harding as lock was also international for England during 1961 1962 and George Sheriff a third English line that played with the combined of the Rose in the years 1966 and 1967.
The club enjoyed matches with leading clubs for many years and had a particularly good time during the 1970s when they reached the semifinals of the National Cup (now known as the EDF Energy Trophy). The “special” matches played during this time on Bramley Road include the 1971 game against an international team called: International XV. It was a fantastic occasion, with some 5,000 spectators (the largest influx of people in a rugby union match in North London at the time) who came to watch a magnificent match, which resulted in Saracens 34 – International XV 34.
After a few black years during the early 1980s, the club responded to the challenge posed by the Courage Leagues, and with Floyd Steadman as captain and Tony Russ as coach, they won the Second Division in 1989 with a record of victories of 100% The following year in the first division surprised everyone by finishing in the league just behind the Wasps, Gloucester and Bath.
But, in the short space of two years, the Saracens lost the vast majority of their team: Leonard went to the Harlequins, Ryan to the Wasps and Clarke to Bath and quickly became a “nursery” for the most prestigious teams. In the 1992-1993 season the league was restructured and the Saracens, along with three other teams, were relegated to the National Division One. The following season (1993-1994) the Saracens finished third and could not participate in the promotion matches but the following year they finished champions and returned to the first division of English rugby. Their existence in the first division was jeopardized during the 1995-1996 campaign when they ended up in relegation places along with West Hartlepool but they were saved by the expansion of the league from 10 to 12 teams.
In November 1995 the Saracens got financial support from Nigel Wray and this allowed the club to recruit people like Michael Lynagh, Philippe Sella, Francois Pienaar and Kyran Bracken. The Saracens moved to the field of Enfield F.C., on Southbury Road, and started the new season with a victory over the Leicester Tigers favorites but only finished seventh, just losing the qualification for the Heineken Cup.
The 1997-1998 season was a year to frame. They started with a contract to share the field of Watford F.C. and its stadium for 22,000 seated spectators: Vicarage Road Stadium, where they continue today. The designation of Peter Deakin as Director of Marketing made the Saracens appear on all radio and television networks as well as in magazines and newspapers and, with the help of a small number of former followers, began the “Year of Fez”.
They hired players like Danny Grewcock, Roberto Grau, Gavin Johnson and Ryan Constable joining forces with the talent of homegrown Tony Diprose, Richard Hill and Steve Ravenscroft to form a team that showed significant strength losing only 3 games during the season Regular and finishing second in the Premiership, being very close to the winner: Newcastle, another team that had improved thanks to the changes brought by professionalism. It should be noted that Newcastle has not repeated this success since then.
The consolation prize for having lost the league title for so little, came in the then main domestic Cup, the Tetley Bitter Cup (which later became the Anglo-Welsh Cup). The Saracens won the Wasps in the final for a 48-18 result at Twickenham, matching the record for the Bath Cup final by scoring 48 points. His road to the title included a 59-point win over Blackheath, a 14-13 victory over Leicester, a 36-30 victory in the quarterfinals over Richmond, followed by a Northampton victory in the semifinals. It was the biggest trophy the Saracens have won in its 122-year history and no trophies have been won since then. The game they developed was also notable for being the last competition match for two sports legends, Lynagh and Sella; some years later these two same players became the first members to belong to the Hall of Fame of Saracens (Saracen’s Hall of Fame).
After a very solid start to the season, the Saracens fell apart in December when they lost incomprehensibly at home against the bottom of the table, the London Scottish, but with a win against Bedford and West Hartlepool and a draw against the Wasps it was seen that They were still following the leaders, the Leicester Tigers. However, the second half of the league led the Saracens to eighth place in the league, leaving them out of European competitions after four consecutive defeats, eventually finishing as third of the best teams in London.
In the 1999-2000 season it was seen as great renowned players landed on Vicarage Road as Mark Mapletoft, Thierry Lacroix, Scott Murray and Dan Luger joining the club along with DarraghO’Mahony and Julian White. With the staff decimated due to the World Cup and that the first participation in the Heineken Cup was not very satisfactory. They lost three games for a couple of points in the final seconds and did not reach the quarterfinals.
In the absence of a few games by the end of the league it seemed possible that they failed to qualify for European competition again, but Kyran Bracken returned after an injury that kept him out for ten months to inspire the Saracens and get them the fourth square and with it the classification for the Heineken Cup.
The start of the 2000-2001 season was also difficult. In October the Saracens had already left the Heineken Cup after losing in Cardiff and with the arrival of the Test Matches of Autumn the team lost all its internationals, who joined the Achilles tendon injury suffered by Thomas Castaignède.
The results were rapidly declining and they achieved a fifth place that left them out of the Heineken Cup.
The new season brought many changes, with players like Luger, Grewcock, White, and Wallace, and to the dismay of their loyal fan club, Tony Diprose, who left the team. Adding in addition that the news about Castaignède’s injury that said he was going to miss almost the whole season and that further weakened the team, Francois Pienaar, who now had full control in the operations of training and hiring players bet on young players that they came to the club.
After a reasonable start to the season, the Saracens found themselves in the privileged positions they were accustomed to being in, but after the Autumn Tests, again, the calls of the Saracens were drastically weakened. At the beginning of the new year, the Saracens were again flirting with the danger of descent, and also out of all competitions. This caused morale to sink and Pienaar left his various roles within the club after five years.
With the loss of the coach, the older players took over, the moral problem seemed to have passed, but the results remained poor and the Saracens finished in tenth place.
After the exit the previous year of Pienaar, and finish the year in tenth position and without a coach, for this season the legend All Black Wayne Shelford is hired. The squad saw the addition of players like Andy Goode, Christian Califano, CraigQuinnell.
Like in a repetition of the previous seasons, the Saracens began beating Bath and Bristol, at the beginning of an encouraging league. However, again, sound defeats, this time with their London rivals, Wasps and Irish, seemed to reduce the confidence of the team, so much that again at the beginning of the new year the Saracens were very close to the relegation places, with the only consolation of his impressive road in the Parker Pen Cup.
The club was again near the tail of the table at the end of the season, but the victories over Bristol and over Sale secured the fifth place in the classification that qualified them, in an improbable way for the end of the season, and they secured a place in the European Cup play-off system. A comfortable victory in the semi-finals against fourth-placed Leeds in the semifinal match led to a surprising final against Leicester.
End that with asphyxiating temperatures in Franklin’s Gardens, they did that the 80 minutes were not enough to decide to the winner since a last push of the Saracens caused that these tied to 20-20. However, in the last seconds an essay by Neil Back gave the title to the Leicester Tigers, although it seemed that the Saracens met again with their warrior spirit.
The last push seemed like it was not enough for Shelford to save the job, and he and most of his coaching staff paid the price for the weak season, being replaced by the experienced Australian and Leicester player Rod Kafer, who at that time he was a relative rookie in the coach position, for the 2003-2004 season. They hired key players like Fijian Simon Raiwalui, former French captain Raphael Ibáñez, Springbok Cobus Visagie and All Black Taine Randell.
However, the change of faces did not change the inconsistency shown in previous seasons, following the same script as in previous years. Once again, the first rounds showed the false sensation that the Saracenses had found themselves in the top three of the table, and again they felt bad about the international calls for the 2003 World Cup that they made return to the bottom of the classification. Situation that was notworse by the big difference between them and the last classified Rotherham. The triumphant return of Richard Hill and Kyran Bracken of the World Cup, brought some improvement in the calls and matches of the second round, but still had to get a rare victory away from home against London Irish to get the tenth place two seasons ago.
In the 2004-2005 season the roster was strongly reinforced, for the first time they changed their policy of foreign signings for one based on English players, possibly motivated by the effects that international calls to their players had in previous years. They arrived Kevin Yates, Iain Fullarton, Alex Sanderson, Dan Scarbrough and Hugh Vyvyan, while Matt Cairns returned to the club and Steve Diamond arrived as head coach. Another recruitment that has become a very important part of the Saracens line has been the New Zealand opening Glen Jackson.
The season started in the best possible way, getting a victory against the champions of the previous season, the London Wasps during the first “London Double Header” in Twickenham. Again, however, the “curse of winter” returned to lash the Saracens, who after some inconsistent games, Diamond took over the position of coach replacing Kafer. The new year, again, brought a chain of convincing matches that after a long streak without losing, was able to finish the year in the top of the table, in fifth place.
Again, with the qualification for the European Cup in play, they won, as they had started the year, in Twickenham to Worcester. The classification to the Heineken Cup, however, was assured after a final test against Gloucester in the last game.