The Champions may not be the aesthetes choice but they do the business and Eddie Jones will surely be inking in several Sarries names to his first England squad
By Adam Hathaway
When Richard Cockerill walked into the press room at Allianz Park on Saturday he jokingly asked the reporters if he could do his press duties standing up because he had just had his backside smacked by Saracens.
The Leicester director of rugby is not the only one who has been on the wrong end of a hiding from Sarries this year – the 26-6 defeat of the Tigers was a 12th win on the spin for Mark McCall’s men.
They are the first Premiership side to be unbeaten domestically and in Europe going into January – that stat is skewed a bit by the late start to the season but we will draw a veil over that bit. It is still a decent old run of victories.
And they are copping flak left, right and centre. Dai Young accused them of being boring after he had seen his Wasps side beaten 26-16 in Coventry, just after Christmas, and Cockerill himself said there was a lot to like about Saracens even if you didn’t like them.
And their display against Leicester at the weekend, when they scored three penalty tries and another one from a driving maul, did not exactly endear them anyone not wearing a black and red scarf.
Even Alex Sanderson, the Sarries’ forwards’ coach, said it was ‘not pretty but it was pretty effective’ in the aftermath of their win.
But they have scored 24 tries in eight Premiership games, which have not all been of the kick and clap variety, and Alex Goode tried to play a bit of rugby in desperate conditions against the Tigers.
What did people expect them to do in driving rain? Chuck it about like a Fijian team in the Hong Kong Sevens or stick it up their jumpers get the bonus point and get the hell out of there?
Boring Sarries? I wonder if Stuart Lancaster would like to coach an England team as boring as that and I wonder if his successor would. Eddie Jones is set to name his first squad ahead of the Six Nations on 13 January and it will be chock full of players from his old club.
Goode, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Will Fraser, the Vunipola brothers, George Kruis, Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth, Brad Barritt and England’s forgotten wing, Chris Ashton will all have a right to be disappointed if they are not in the mix.
There is a Saracens flavour to the coaching team as well with Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard already on board and Jones having spent time there when they were at the dilapidated Vicarage Road.
If England play the Saracens way would the fans who travel to Murrayfield next month for the Six Nations opener against Scotland be happy?
Powerful scrum, smooth line-out and a hugely efficient kick-chase game with the ability to spread it about if the conditions allow, what’s not to like?
Jones has consistently said he is only worried about getting the win north of Hadrian’s Wall before disappearing to Edinburgh airport with two points wrapped.
Any Englishman who has been to Murrayfield before will know that the land of Braveheart is no place for faint hearts and I reckon most Red Rose fans would be happy for a sharp exit after a 12-6 heist in the rain, ready to prepare for the game against Italy.
And if Jones wants a squad who will deliver the goods in a hostile environment he should look no further than the blokes from Barnet Copthall for the guts of his squad.
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They have been to Ulster and won twice – Ravenhill was a bear pit that night in 2014 – they beat Racing Metro away a year later and this year they’ve won at Kingsholm, Franklin’s Gardens and the Ricoh Arena. Along the way they have attracted derision from opposing fans and opposing coaching staff but they remain unperturbed. They simply get the job done.
Boring winners? If Jones can pull off that trick with the national side it will do for this Englishman.