Aug 14, 2015
McCall reacts to Champions Cup fixtures
Director of rugby Mark McCall believes Saracens’ opening Champions Cup fixture at Allianz Park against Stade Toulousain provides the Aviva Premiership Champions with an “incredibly exciting” start the 2015/16 competition.
Saracens host the four-time European Cup winners at Allianz Park on Saturday 14th November, before travelling to Belfast six days later to face Pro 12 side Ulster in round two. McCall’s side will then face Oyonnax in back-to-back clashes with the European Cup debutants in December. Saracens travel to the Charles Mathon Stadium on Sunday 13th December with the return fixture at Allianz Park on Saturday 19th December.
Speaking about facing Toulouse in round one and the draw itself, McCall said: “It’s a heck of start to have one of the French powerhouses coming to our place first up, and it’s incredibly exciting and should be a great match at Allianz Park. Six days later we have Ulster at the Kingspan, who are a brilliant side, and have been in Europe for the last few seasons.
“It’s very much like the draw we had last season. Last year we started with Clermont at home than had Munster away in round two, so it’s very similar. The different slant to this season is that the World Cup final will be played two weeks before the first game, and we don’t know who will be in the final but if England were to get into the final, which would be a wonderful thing, we don’t know how our players will be coming back into the club with Toulouse just two weeks away. It might provide a slightly different dynamic if France are in the final, or if Ireland are in the final."
The north Londoners have reached the final four of the competition for the last three seasons, Saracens are hoping to continue their fine continental form in the 2015/16 season. Having guided Saracens into three semi-finals and one European Cup final in his time with the club, McCall believes that teams will have to “fight” for every single point on offer in Pool 1 to progress into the knockout stages.
“It’s a competition that we want to do well in, and one that we’ve done reasonably well in over the last couple of seasons, said McCall. “We know how difficult the Champions Cup can be and how punishing a competition it is. If you lose two games in succession you are effectively out of the tournament.
"We’ve learned that you need to fight for every point, and every point matters. You need to fight all the way through and certainly in those first two games we’ll be doing that.”
“We’ve got a strong squad this season, although we we’re not going to see a lot of that squad for a period of time. Traditionally our players who have been away playing for their countries enjoy coming back to the club and really add a lot when they come back.”