Thursday 17 August 2017

McCall's Saracens dynasty is built on the core principles forged by Reds' 'hardest-working' ethos

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Sporting dynasties can only be wrought through struggle; this much the men of Saracens know because they have been there.

And so any words of consolation towards Munster contain not a breath of condescension; they are at their pinnacle because, from far down the foothills, they recognised that only by imitating the best could they ever join them.

Munster, ironically, were the most sparkling lodestar that this once shambling, nomadic and soulless collective followed.

The results were once again writ large for all to see in front of a rapt capacity attendance in this heavily-rouged, raucous corner of Dublin 4.

When Owen Farrell and pére walked into Mulligans of Sandymount on Saturday night, they were met with a standing ovation; real supporters acknowledge greatness, especially when they have once experienced it.

Mark McCall is soft-spoken, but there is no doubt he and his awesome double champions continue to make the loudest of noises on the European stage.

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This 49-year-old son of Bangor, still largely unheralded in his own country but so admired in his adopted land, is now 80 minutes away from a second European triumph, but remains subservient to the culture he has formulated and the players who thrive within it: results do not dictate, but rather the manner in which they are achieved.

"It's a cultural thing," explains Schalk Brits. "We've been together for ages and a group being together with our core principles does help.

"We've seen some tough times. We've lost in semi-finals and finals. We made a lot of errors today, but the effort was outstanding. We have belief in each other. With these big games you can't look too far ahead. You have to focus on the next play."

His is a script authored by the men in red they have now succeeded as kings of a continent.

"All I can say is that they were by miles the hardest-working team we had analysed," McCall says of Munster.

"We lost some quarter-finals, some semi-finals, some finals. I think they'll be all the better for this experience and they've got some great young players."

They shall meet again, for sure, and perhaps this time on a more equal footing.

For now, this appears to be the age of the Saracens dynasty.

The frightening thing is that they show little inclination to allow their crown to slip.

"We think we can get better," added McCall. "We think the age profile of the team is really good. We obviously want this to go on for a while and if you looked at how we defended today, you saw some really good qualities."

Never has the defence of a realm seemed so momentous in its glorious defiance.

Irish Independent

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