Apr 27, 2017
Saracens to bid farewell to legendary pair against Bristol
On Saturday afternoon Saracens will bid a final farewell to two of the club’s most revered players, with Kelly Brown and Neil de Kock playing their final games of their illustrious careers.
In what promises to be an emotional day at Allianz Park the two Sarries legends will bring down the curtain on highly successful time at the club in which both Brown and De Kock have helped the north Londoners to three Aviva Premiership titles, an Anglo-Welsh Cup win and the club’s maiden European Champions Cup. More importantly, the two have contributed in helping Saracens become a leading club off the pitch, with their selfless attitude and unwavering commitment to the club helping breed the healthy culture now prevalent at the club.
“Both Kelly Brown and Neil de Kock will go down as legends of this club,” hailed Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall. “Kelly (Brown) has been an amazing player and person for Saracens. On the field, he has been unbelievably consistent setting a superb example to our younger players, constantly giving everything he had. Off the field, he is one of the most selfless people you’ll ever meet, always putting the team first - his decency and humility have always shone through in his time here. Neil (de Kock) will always be remembered as one of the true greats of Saracens. His contribution to this club over 11-years really is hard to put into words - he will rightly be remembered as a Saracens legend and hopefully on Saturday afternoon we can give him and Kelly the send-off they so richly deserve.”
Club captain Brad Barritt echoed McCall’s sentiments, saying: “Two men who have played a crucial role in helping build the environment we enjoy at the club are Kelly and Neil - both will be playing their final game of their careers on Saturday before hanging up their boots. I'd struggle put into words how inspirational and important guys like Kelly and Neil have been to the club - in Kelly’s case for seven years and in Neil’s, a truly amazing 11-year period. Kelly is a man of real integrity and his influence around the club - especially in the last few years with our younger players - has been huge positive. Neil is probably the best import Saracens and the Aviva Premiership has ever seen, not only because of his longevity and frightening consistency of high level performances, but for the impact he has had off the field. All of the players are grateful to have shared so many memories on and off the pitch with such fantastic players and moreover, fine men, who live and breathe the culture that we enjoy so much at Saracens today. They are two guys who have set the bar phenomenally high, for what a Saracens player is!”
34-year old Brown, who announced that he would retirement from the game earlier this month (April), will be moving into the Club’s backroom team as an Academy Coach whilst former club captain Neil de Kock will call time on an 11-year association with Saracens to move back to his native South Africa with his wife Sonja and his young family. Saturday could also potentially see fan favourites Chris Ashton, Petrus Du Plessis and Jim Hamilton play their final games at Allianz Park, with Saracens still sitting in an away semi-final position in the Aviva Premiership standings.
McCall added: “Petrus (Du Plessis) has been a rock for this club ever since he arrived in 2010 and his efforts on and off the pitch have played an important role in helping the club get to where we are now – consistently competing for the highest honours in the game. Jim’s (Hamilton) contribution to the group has been extremely important - time and again he has really stood up for us and has been selfless in his work and approach around the club - he’s enjoyed a fine career at the very top of his profession. We understand Chris’ (Ashton) motivations to head to France and since the announcement earlier this season his attitude and performances have been first-class. He, like a few other players heading elsewhere at the end of the season, will still have a key role to play over the next few weeks.”
Chairmen Nigel Wray also added his praise for some of Saracens departing players: “For us Saturday will be a day of some emotion as it’s the last home league game for Chris Ashton, Kelly Brown, for Jim Hamilton, for Petrus du Plessis and last but absolutely definitely not least … Neil de Kock, who has been with us for more than 10 years, encompassing the not so good Saracens and the Saracens of the last seven years where we have found our identity as a club with a definite moral spine. Those words writ large on our stand … discipline …work-rate … honesty … and humility are definitely not words just up there for the sake of it. We have all of us to live them every day and indeed I can say, with the advantage or disadvantage perhaps of having spent many decades on this earth, that I have learned so much in those last few years about the meaning of caring, the meaning of having a club as a family where all matter. That’s powerful stuff and stuff we must never lose.”
Don’t miss out on thanking some of Saracens finest players for their tremendous service to the Club on Saturday when the Men in Black face Bristol in the final regular home game of the season at Allianz Park. A limited amount of tickets are still available from saracens.com/tickets.