Owen Farrell kicked Saracens to victory in Saturday’s European Champions Cup final against Racing 92, sealing a famous victory for the London club. Sarries, led by defensive hard-nut Brad Barritt, also made history by becoming the first team in Europe’s Premier club tournament to win every game on their way to lifting the trophy.
Huge congratulations to them. I’m really happy to see the Champions Cup return to British shores. Toulon’s recent success in the tournament pointed towards a potential stranglehold on the trophy by the biggest spending teams from across the channel. Saracens have been flying high in Europe and on the domestic front for some time now, only to have been denied European silverware in the closing stages of the past few tournaments.
Not this time. The sheer physicality shown in Lyon was too much for Racing. The departure of Dan Carter on 42 minutes was a significant blow and a turning point for the Parisians, while Farrell showed nerves of steel to guide Sarries home.
Commentators in Wales indicate a potential gap between the Welsh regions and Europe’s elite, pointing out the brute force on display in the European finale couldn’t have been matched by our pro teams. With only one team – the Scarlets – representing Wales among Europe’s elite next season, it seems the odds are stacked against seeing a Welsh team go the distance any time soon. I do feel Scarlets play some outstanding attacking rugby at times, however, and having recruited well, could have the firepower to reach the knockout stages next year.
For now, there’ll be little time for celebration in north London, as Mark Mcall’s men prepare for yet another Premiership semi-final. Having seen how formidable Saracens have been over the last few seasons, how clinical and hard-nosed this group have become – how truly unified they are – I can’t help but feel there’s another domestic title on the horizon. At this rate, they’ll need a bigger trophy cabinet.