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How Saracens' players reacted to takeover when Wray addressed them

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Trending on RugbyPass

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Mark McCall has explained how his players reacted last Friday when Nigel Wray addressed the squad at the Saracens training ground, telling them that the fraught financial period following their January 2020 automatic relegation from the Gallagher Premiership was finally over with a £32million takeover that was officially made public the following day. 

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Saracens are now back in the top flight following their season in the Championship and but for the concession of a clock-in-the-red penalty try at Leicester last Saturday, they would be two wins from two heading into next Saturday’s home clash versus Newcastle.

There had been financial concerns over how Wray and co might bounce back following Saracens’ damaging stint outside the Premiership, but their future now seems secure following the takeover by a consortium that includes Francois Pienaar, the 1995 Springboks World Cup-winning captain, and Marco Masotti, owner of South Africa’s URC-playing Sharks.

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Wray has retained a minority shareholding, so he won’t just suddenly vanish from the club, and asked by RugbyPass about the reaction amongst the squad to the takeover, McCall said: “He [Wray] was at Leicester on Saturday and he addressed the team on the Friday before the news was announced and I talked to him on Sunday morning like I always do after the match. Nigel is going to be a very visible supporter. 

“Everyone in the squad has the most enormous respect for Nigel, a great affection for him, but they were relieved to know that he is going to (still) be around all the time. He was around all the time in the last ten years that I have been here. He comes to our captain’s practice, comes to the games, comes to the changing room after the match and those things will continue.

“It’s newish [the takeover] and I don’t think I am going to be seeing all that money. There are obviously plans to rebuild the stadium properly, plans to put a high-performance centre down there at some point. All of those things are in the future but for now, it is really business as normal.”

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The fresh investment in the club is a reward for the loyalty shown in Saracens by key players such as Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell, who opted to stick by the Londoners and play Championship matches rather than quit for a higher standard of rugby elsewhere following the salary cap scandal punishment. 

“That was the most pleasing thing. What happened with that was just the amount of loyalty shown by everybody, to be honest, the fans, the staff, the players. We are where we are now and rather than talking about all those things now, we would much rather not. We’d much rather look forward and talk about the future.” 

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