While there is inevitably going to be a lot of tension in every game Saracens play this season in the Gallagher Premiership, few contests may have as much bad blood as this Sunday’s fixture with Harlequins at The Stoop. 

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This is the first league match since it was announced the reigning champions will be relegated to the Championship at the end of the season for breaching the salary cap. 

Since that was revealed last weekend, a lot has come to light in the intervening time, including the publication of the report on Premiership Rugby’s investigation led by Lord Dyson, as well as various statements from Saracens. 

However, The Times also reported this past week that Harlequins themselves had actually compiled a dossier on their London rivals following their own investigations, which was used by PRL. 

While some may think that Saracens will not take their Premiership games too seriously for the rest of the season, this is a strong rivalry which has surely only intensified over the past few days. 

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Harlequins will want to climb up the league table and will certainly want to get one over such a maligned club. But while the league is now academic for Mark McCall’s side, he has still named a strong side despite the absent England players. 

There have been concerns regarding how seriously Saracens will take their remaining league fixtures, but their XV is an encouraging indication that they are not going to roll over a die for the rest of the campaign – and they will be aware that they will be facing a fired up team every week they play. 

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Meanwhile, some have dubbed this as ‘Bloodgate’ versus ‘Salarygate’ as Harlequins have equally been embroiled in a scandal that rocked English rugby in recent times. 

However, it has frequently been argued this week that Saracens’ offence is far worse, which may evoke a much more impassioned response from their hosts this weekend. 

WATCH: How the Saracens salary cap scandal could strengthen New Zealand rugby

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