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'It's f***in' bleak... Saracens will get a shock': Gary Graham on what life will be like for the relegated Londoners in the Championship

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

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Scotland back row Gary Graham has provided a no-nonsense insight into what life is really like in the Championship in England, the Newcastle forward adding that Saracens will be left gobsmacked by some of the experiences they will encounter if the second-tier league eventually gets started in 2021. 


Automatically relegated from the Premiership last January following repeated breaches of the salary cap, Saracens have yet to play a match in the Championship as the start of the 2020/21 season was delayed due to the pandemic.   

It is now currently set to begin in March and Graham, who played five matches last term in the Championship in a truncated title-winning season with Newcastle, believes an eye-opening journey awaits Saracens going by what the Falcons experienced in 2019/20. 

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“It’s f***in’ bleak,” said Graham when asked about life in the Championship during an appearance on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod. “I started off here at Jersey (2014 to 2017), but like going from the Prem down into that (with Newcastle)… Cornish Pirates want you to get changed in a f***in’ two-metre square portakabin in the wet, wind and rain and the ground is a quagmire as it is.

“I didn’t play at Ampthill but basically you have got to do a mile trek to get to the pitch. I wasn’t playing in that game, but it’s horrible. Especially playing against those teams, it’s the cup final for everyone. Everyone is flying into it and you have got young lads now that want to take your head off every opportunity. Sarries will get a shock if they ever do eventually play in it.”

Newcastle have been flying since their return to the Premiership, sitting in second after five wins in six games (four victories on the pitch and another in the boardroom due to a cancellation). However, the process of getting to there wasn’t straightforward, the Falcons left without a match for eight months in between seasons because of the lockdown. 


The layoff hit Graham hard. “At the start of lockdown you weren’t allowed to go to gyms, you weren’t allowed to go to the club. There was one day where the club opened up and let us steal a few weights and then I had just bought a house and was renovating it. 

“It was a building site and when you are waking up in dust trying to do a bench press in some dog s***, it’s not a very good motivation. Luckily a few of us started to join together and we started a little running group at Blaydon and we’d run there together.

“And Seb de Chaves, who is away in America now, he would come to my house and he was my motivation to get up as he would want to use my weights. At times it was bleak. You’d rather sit in the house with red wine than doing some bench press on a bench in the f***in’ cold.”  



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