SCHALK BRITS prepared for Saracens’ game against Sale the unconventional way last week – with hardly any sleep at all. The hooker’s first baby, son Christian, was born on Thursday, leaving Brits with little option but to travel to Edgeley Park for the Friday night game with no more than 40 winks. But the new arrival proved to be a good luck charm for the team, as they thrashed Sale 9-45 to briefly top the Aviva Premiership table.
Now Brits and Saracens are preparing to take on Harlequins, who regained the top spot by beating Bath at home on Saturday. The game will be played at Wembley, where Saracens have made themselves a home from home, having won six of the seven games they’ve played at the home of football. They have also managed to overcome Quins in every one of their last five meetings, and Brits can’t wait to run out in front of a sell out crowd.
“Wembley is always a special place to go and play rugby,” said Brits. “We love playing there, it’s a special ground with a great history and we have a fairly good record there too.
“We’ve played there a number of times so it feels like home now. This weekend we’re expecting our biggest ever crowd, which is what we’ve always wanted.
“Quins have played some good rugby this season, but we are also where we need to be and it’ll be great to play against the leaders of the table. It’s time for us to get into fifth gear now. The weather will be good too, so there will be some good running rugby on show.”
Saracens will go into this weekend’s game buoyed by the knowledge that they are one step closer to moving to their own ground. The club is intending to revive Barnet Copthall stadium, and it was announced this week that their plans have been given the green light by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the final hurdle that needed to be cleared before official planning permission can be granted. The club will play in their new location from next season, and after testing times getting plans approved, it’s a move that cannot come too soon for all involved.
Brits added: “Vicarage Road has been good to us, but we cannot wait to move to our new ground. We want a place to call home, and the sooner it happens the better.”
As well as a top of the table clash, fans will have a chance of winning £250,000 in the Domino’s Kicking Challenge, and the pre-match entertainment will include a performance by McFly, starting at 2.15pm. Saracens got acquainted with the band when they joined their training session last month. The experience turned bitter sweet for Brits, who entered into an eating competition with I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winner and McFly member Dougie Poynter, which required him to eat the sort of food that is more commonly found on reality TV than in a rugby club’s changing room.
“It was absolutely horrible,” Brits said of the competition. “I thought it would be a normal eating contest, like who could eat the most hot dogs in two minutes. But when I saw the five plates of food I thought, there’s something fishy going on here.
“The penis was the worst bit. It’s not fleshy at all, and you bite into the cartilage which is crunchy and hard to swallow. It was brutal, and I’ll certainly never do it again for free!”
Saracens v Harlequins, Wembley, 31 March 2012, kick-off 3pm.
Saracens: Alex Goode; David Strettle, Chris Wyles, Owen Farrell, James Short; Charlie Hodgson, Neil de Kock; Matt Stevens, Schalk Brits, Carlos Nieto, Steve Borthwick (c), Mouritz Botha, Justin Melck, Will Fraser, Ernst Joubert.
Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Petrus du Plessis, George Kruis, Jackson Wray, Richard Wigglesworth, Adam Powell, Michael Tagicakibau.
Harlequins: Mike Brown; Tom Williams, George Lowe, Jordan Turner-Hall, Ugo Monye; Nick Evans, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Rob Buchanan, James Johnston, Ollie Kohn, George Robson, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Chris Robshaw (c), Nick Easter.
Replacements: Aston Croall, Mark Lambert, Will Collier, Tomas Vallejos, Tom Guest, Karl Dickson, Rory Clegg, Ross Chisholm.
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Referee: Greg Garner