Apr 07, 2017
Wembley Stadium - A Sarries Rugby History
Saturday sees Sarries take on Harlequins under the Wembley arch in this year’s #DerbyDay fixture. It will be the 14th time that the Men in Black take to the hallowed turf since the first match against Northampton Saints way back in 2009.
However, it’s not just been in Saracens colours that some of our former players have graced the Wembley turf. The home of football has also hosted several test matches, here are some current and former players to have played at both the old and the new Wembley while playing for the club:
Paul Wallace-Ireland (vs Wales, 1999):
In 1998 and 1999 when Cardiff Arms Park was being redeveloped to become the Millennium Stadium, Wales played their home matches in the old Five Nations.
Prop Wallace started in one of his 46 caps for Ireland against Wales at Wembley in the first match of the 1999 tournament. Tries from Kevin Maggs and Keith Wood helped the Irish past a spirited Wales side in front of 76,000 people under the old Twin Towers.
Richard Hill-England (vs Wales, 1999):
In the final match of the 1999 Five Nations Richard Hill and England were narrowly edged out by Wales on a sunny April afternoon in one of the most dramatic games in the history of the competition.
With heavy favourites England needing a win to complete a grand-slam they looked set to do so as the game entered overtime. The Red Rose were leading by six points at the time but in remarkable fashion, Scott Gibbs scored at the death to tee up Neil Jenkins to slot home the winning conversion and deny England.
The title instead went to Scotland on points difference in what will go down as one of the most enthralling matches in rugby history and the last rugby match played at the old-Wembley.
Marcelo Bosch-Argentina (vs New Zealand, 2015):
The only current Sarries player to have represented their country at Wembley, the Argentine played in front of a record Rugby World Cup crowd of 89,019 as the Pumas pushed the All Blacks all the way in a bruising Pool C encounter.
Facing the soon-to-be World Champions, the then 31-year-old was unfortunate to be on the losing side, as were the whole Argentina squad on that day as they were lost 26-16.
The Argentines progressed all the way to the semi-finals in that year’s tournament and Bosch was ever-present until their exit at the hands of Australia.
Cătălin Fercu-Romania (vs Ireland, 2015):
After making his debut in 2015’s record-breaking Derby Day encounter, cult-hero Fercu is best known to the Allianz Park faithful for his try-saving tackle on Exeter’s Tom James in 2015’s LV=Cup final triumph.
However, he is recognised by Romania fans as the man who secured his side’s passage to the 2015 tournament with a try against Spain. Fercu’s international Wembley visit was a disappointing one though as Lynn Howells’ side were comprehensively beaten 44-10 by a strong Ireland side.
Tickets for Derby Day remain on sale today and will be available on the day at the ticket office. For all the key information head to saracens.com.
By Will Freeman