Saracens forward Jamie George has hit at critics of the London club following their heartbreaking Heineken Champions Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Racing 92 at La Defence Arena in Paris.
After leading for most of the game, the reigning champions suffered a 19-15 semi-final loss to their hosts as Juan Imhoff’s late converted try proved decisive.
Sarries were condemned to relegation from the Gallagher Premiership in January for breaching salary cap regulations.
They have two Premiership fixtures to fulfil – away to Worcester on Wednesday and at home to Bath next Sunday – before starting life in the Championship.
England hooker George summed up the uncertainty around the club, saying: “The element of the unknown is pretty horrendous.
“The way we saw it was that it was our last chance to compete for a little while.
“We wanted to finish it off and I’m gutted, I’m not going to lie. But at the same time I’m also incredibly proud.
“A lot of people have talked rubbish about us for a long time. But if you look at the squad here probably our best player was Dom Morris, and if you’re telling me we’re breaking the salary cap that’s an interesting one.
“I don’t know what we’re going to be facing, but the young players coming through are hugely motivated and that is the exciting thing for me.
“This defeat is a tough one to take because we had control of the game.
“We felt comfortable defensively, but a bit of magic from Finn (Russell) and they got that try at the end.”
Saracens head coach Mark McCall branded it the end of an era. “This has been an incredible period for us in the last five seasons. This was our 23rd knock-out game in either Europe or the Premiership and we’ve won 19 of those games, which is an incredible record.
“We put our heart and soul into that game and we can be proud of the players. They are a special group.”
Saracens won’t compete in Europe again until 2022 at the earliest.
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