Jun 10, 2015
100 Days to RWC - Sarries past winners
With just 100 days to go until England hosts the 2015 Rugby World Cup we take a look at the former Saracens players who have lifted the William Web Ellis trophy.
We take a look at past-players who have donned the star and crescent during their playing careers and have won the competition in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and most recently, 2007.
Richard Hill - World Cup winner 2003
Saracens' greatest ever? 'Sir Richard' as he was affectionately known during his days at Bramley Road and Vicarage Road was a vital cog in Clive Woodward's victorious 2003 winning side. A classy back rower, Hill's influence in a star-studded England back-row that included Leicester's Neil Back and Wasps' Lawrence Dallalgio was a main driver for England's success.
Hill lifted the William Web Ellis trophy after Jonny Wilkinson's drop-goal sunk Wallaby hearts, with England beating Australian 20-17 in Sydney.
In a 15-year career that transcended the amateur and professional eras, Hill was a one-club man and made 275 appearances for the club.
Kyran Bracken - World Cup winner 2003
One of Sarries most influential and recognisable stars of the professional era, Bracken was a member of the 2003 squad that lifted the World Cup in Sydney.
In 2003 the classy halfback played in the notable victories over the Wallabies and the All Blacks and was selected by Sir Clive Woodward for the Rugby World Cup in Australia later the same year. He made four appearances during the tournament, earning his 50th cap against Wales in the quarter-finals, and gained his last cap in the semi-final victory over France. He was an unused replacement in the final victory over Australia but was amongst those honoured by the Queen and is now an MBE.
Bracken made 208 appearances for Saracens during a 10-year stint at Vicarage Road.
Michael Lynagh - World Cup winner 1991
One of Saracens most famous former players won the Rugby World Cup with Australia in 1991. The elegant fly-half booted the Wallabies to a 12-6 victory over an England side that included former Sarries prop Jason Leonard. The Queenslander kicked seven points from the kicking tee in the final at Twickenham Stadium as Bob Dwyer's side were crowned World Champions.
Lynagh - whose legendary kicking helped him to a world individual points record of 911 in 73 matches for his country - signed for Saracens in January 1996 at the age 32 and starred in the Men in Black's Tetley Bitter Cup winning campaign in 1998.
Tim Horan - World Cup winner 1991, 1999
Inside centre Tim Horan made his Wallaby debut in 1989 against the All Blacks, and two years later he was crowned a World Champion in Australia's 1991 win at Twickenham Stadium. Fast forward eight years, and Horan once again lifted the William Web Ellis trophy on British soil. The Queensland Reds midfielder was a key component of the Australian team that beat France 35-12 in the final at the Millennium Stadium and was voted the 1999 RWC player of the tournament.
Horan signed for Saracens in the summer 2000, and despite a few injury issues delaying his debut, he quickly established himself as a fan favourite during his time at Vicarage Road.
Francois Pienaar - World Cup winner 1995
Springbok legend Francois Pienaar etched his and his South African team not only into Rugby folklore, but sporting and political history by inspiring the ninth seeded Bok's side to a World Cup win on home soil in 1995.
In what has become one of sports most iconic moments, loose-forward Pienaar lifted the William Web Ellis trophy alongside South African President Nelson Mandela in front of capacity crowd of 65,000 fans in Ellis Park after they beat a star-studded New Zealand side 15-12 in extra time.
Pienaar left his native country a hero and moved to Saracens in 1996 to lead the club to the Tetley Bitter Cup final win in 1998 as player/coach.
John Smit - World Cup winner 2007
A veteran of 111 Tests, John Smit joined the likes of David Kirk, Nick Farr-Jones, Francois Pienaar, John Eales and Martin Johnson as leading his country to World Cup glory.
The inspirational hooker lifted the trophy after his side beat England 15-6 in a tense final that will be remembered by Red Rose fans as the try that never was, with Mark Cueto's effort ruled out much to the dismay of Brian Ashton's side.
South Africa captain John Smit joined Saracens in October 2011 after the conclusion of the World Cup in New Zealand. The 33-year-old joined as the most capped captain and forward in Springbok history, and starred for Saracens in a two season spell at Allianz Park.
Brendan Venter - Saracens charismatic former Technical Director and Director of Rugby was a member of the 1995 South African winning squad. A tough centre, Venter won 17 caps the Springboks between 1995-1999.
Gavin Johnson - A free scoring full-back during his time in London, the South African former Transvaal star joined his former teammate Francois Piennar at Vicarage Road in 1996 after being a member of the 1995 World Cup winning squad. He won seven Springbok caps during his international career.
Rod Kafer - An unused squad member in Australia's 1999 World Cup win, Kafer won 12 caps for the Wallabies before moving to the UK to join Leicester Tigers. He linked up with Saracens in 2003 as a player before becoming Head Coach after Wayne Shelford (another World Cup winner) left the club.