The winter limbo for relegated Saracens is over after they agreed to take part in a three-team Championship pre-season tournament with second-tier rivals Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders which will last six weeks and begin on January 16.
The so-called Trailfinders Challenge Cup will be a round-robin competition where each team will play each other home and away with the usual points system for wins, draws, try bonus points and losing points in place.
Following the competition of four matches each, the top-ranked side will be crowned Trailfinders Challenge Cup champions and presented with a trophy. All games in the tournament will be streamed live to ensure supporters of all three clubs can enjoy access to these important pre-season fixtures.
Relegated Saracens have been inactive since their final match in the 2019/20 Premiership, an Allianz Park draw with Bath on October 4. There was a friendly last month against a Leicester XV but nothing else to fill the Saracens calendar until now ahead of the March start to the delayed Championship campaign.
Saracens boss Mark McCall said: “We’re delighted to be playing in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup ahead of the new season and thankful to those who have made it possible. The challenge of playing Doncaster and Ealing in competitive fixtures is one we are looking forward to and will be ideal preparation for our squad for the season ahead.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 30, 2020
Doncaster boss Steve Boden added: “We are really excited to be playing rugby again and especially looking forward to the chance to test ourselves against such high-quality opposition. After just seven weeks of training, this competition will be a huge challenge for us, but one that will provide plenty of learning opportunities for our young group and showcase the quality and talent within the Greene King IPA Championship”
Ealing director Ben Ward said: “We are delighted to be playing in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup. To have competitive rugby and a trophy up for grabs will give us a real focus over the coming weeks.
“Saracens and Doncaster have both been in training for a while and we are all desperate to play rugby and get games under our belt before the league season starts. The games will be exciting to watch and we want to show the quality that is on show in the Championship.
“Thanks to Mike Gooley and Trailfinders for offering to cover all associated costs to make this event possible. As sponsors of the Trailfinders Challenge Cup, their generosity has given us a new opportunity and we can’t wait to get out there and play on January 16.”
Trailfinders Challenge Cup
January 16: Ealing v Saracens
January 23: Doncaster v Saracens
January 30: Doncaster v Ealing
February 6: Saracens v Ealing
February 13: Saracens v Doncaster
February 20: Ealing v Doncaster
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 6, 2021
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