Season of milestones: Saracens Men
Last season saw a number of the Saracens Men squad reach personal milestones on their way to helping the club record the domestic and European double as well as secure the Premiership Rugby Shield.
Several Academy products made their first team debuts. There were first run-outs in the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup, first tries and landmark appearances too.
Take a look at who achieved what in the 2018/19 campaign:
Nine Saracens players made their league bow, eight of which coming through the club’s Academy system. After joining on an initial loan, Christian Judge put on a Sarries shirt for the first time in September against Bath and featured 14 times in the league in total. England Under-20 lock Joel Kpoku excelled in the Premiership Rugby Cup before earning his Premiership debut, scoring in the November victory over Sale Sharks at Allianz Park. Ralph Adams-Hale didn’t have a senior game to his name at the beginning of the campaign but after coming off the bench against Wasps, he went on to play an important role in the Premiership final. Centre Dom Morris played 14 minutes on the wing at Wasps before grabbing a brace in an excellent display on his home debut. In the same match, Academy duo Sean Reffell and Manu Vunipola got a taste of a packed out Allianz Park before Andy Christie, Tom Griffiths and Billy Walker completed the Premiership debutants list in Round 22 at Worcester Warriors. Jon Kpoku and Elliott Obatoyinbo both made their senior debuts in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
First Premiership starts
During the autumn internationals, Christian Judge took his opportunity in the number three jersey in Sarries’ 31-25 win over Sale. Scrum-half Tom Whiteley will never forget his first league start against Bristol Bears – he marked the occasion with a try early on at Ashton Gate. Having appeared off the bench twice in 2017/18, Rotimi Segun completed 80 minutes as the Men in Black overcame an equally-young Exeter Chiefs outfit in May. Manu Vunipola was rewarded for his fine season by starting at fly-half in the final round of the campaign against Worcester Warriors.
Premiership appearance record
Richard Wigglesworth broke the all-time Premiership appearance record in September when Saracens defeated Gloucester. The scrum-half overtook former teammate and Sarries skipper Steve Borthwick by making the 266th top-flight appearance of his 17-year career. The 36-year-old ended the season 276 Prem matches and looks set to add to that in the 2019/20 term.
Christian Judge made a try-scoring debut in the Heineken Champions Cup, bursting on to a ball to finish against Cardiff Blues. Full-back Matt Gallagher came on for the final five minutes of Saracens’ pool stage win against Glasgow Warriors having previously been an unused replacement in the 2016/17 competition.
Joining the 100 club
Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and Nick Tompkins all joined the 100 club in the 2018/19 season. Itoje came on as a replacement at The Stoop as the Wolfpack battled back to record a W against Harlequins in Round 6 of the Gallagher Premiership. Vunipola was on target on his milestone day to help Saracens reach the European final with victory over Munster. Tompkins scored an Allianz Park hat-trick on his century match in the Premiership semi-final.
Academy to 200
Brad Barritt, Schalk Brits, Kris Chesney, Neil de Kock, Alex Goode, Richard Hill, Richard Wigglesworth, Jackson Wray, Chris Wyles – all members of the Saracens 200 club and they were joined by Jamie George in September. The England and British & Irish Lions hooker made his 200th appearance for the club aged just 27-years-old back in September, 10 years after his senior debut in the LV= Cup.