Fixtures - Top Bar

Mark McCall: Saracens must forget last year’s Champions Cup success

Saracens boss Mark McCall has told his squad to erase last season’s Champions Cup final win against Dan Carter’s Racing 92 from their minds as they prepare to kickstart their European title defence.

McCall and Sarries enjoyed a stellar campaign last season, winning the European Cup and Aviva Premiership double after downing Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham.

This time around in Europe the defending champions have been paired in a tough looking Pool 3 alongside Sale Sharks, Scarlets and former champions Toulon and will begin the defence of their title in France on October 15.

The standout fixture in qualifying is undoubtedly the clash with a star-studded Toulon, but McCall is refusing to get carried away – insisting the focus is firmly on progression to the knockout stages presently and not on defending their crown.

“This is a new competition,” said McCall. “It is brand new; we have a different dynamic now and last season has gone.

“We have a tough group to try and get through and emerge from and that is the focus point for a while and nothing more.

“It is an exciting place to go (Toulon), I’m not sure if many of our players will have very played there before but it is one of the great grounds of Europe and we have the squad who will really get excited about that kind of challenge.

“It was a great journey that we went on in last year’s competition.

“In all of these things you need a bit of fortune along the way and looking back on the pool matches we had last year and the qualifying matches as well, we actually had a healthy squad from which to pick from the whole way through the competition.

“Just getting out of your group in this competition is very difficult on its own and that will be the immediate focus for us, to move on very quickly from last year and it does not get any bigger than our first game which is Toulon away.

“If you want to be successful you need to have good players, which we do have but you need a lot more besides.

“You need good fortune with injuries but then you need to be really resilient and with us it was not just last year, it was the three or four years before that where we have gained a lot of experience in the competition.”

It was not just last season where Saracens flexed their muscles on the European stage, having reached the final in 2014 only to lose 23-6 to Toulon at Principality Stadium.

And McCall insists all these experiences have helped him understand just what is need to be a success in the competition.

“If you want to be successful you need to have good players, which we do have, but you need a lot more besides,” he added.

“You need good fortune with injuries but then you need to be really resilient and with us it was not just last year, it was the three or four years before that where we have gained a lot of experience in the competition.

“We had to fight really hard to get through the pool and two years before we came eighth, we qualified by the skin of our teeth but we understood that you have got to fight for every point and we were good enough to go away from home and win in the quarter-finals.

“But we also had some setbacks in those two years as well but I think just as a group we are more experienced in the competition than ever before and I think that is probably the most important thing.”

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is the organiser of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition. Follow all the excitement of another thrilling season of European action at

Latest News

Harlequins Ladies coach savours upcoming Women’s Super Rugby season

Women’s sport is booming according to former Richmond prop and Scotland captain Karen Findlay, who is now relishing the prospect…

Aviva Tackling Numbers programme celebrated at Corporate Engagement Awards

Premiership Rugby and its Aviva Tackling Numbers programme enjoyed not one but two moments in the spotlight at the Corporate…

Corporate Engagement Awards

Lions ready for battle on eve of All Blacks Test

After months of waiting and weeks of build-up, The British & Irish Lions are ready to face the toughest challenge…

Saracens and London Irish to kick off the season at Twickenham

SARACENS and London Irish will help launch the 2017-18 Premiership Rugby season after being chosen as the home sides for…

Ex-England star Susie Appleby excited to lead Gloucester-Hartpury in inaugural Women’s Super Rugby campaign

Former England international Susie Appleby believes it’s an exciting time for women’s rugby as she issues a rallying cry to…

Wasps confirm 2017/18 pre-season schedule

Wasps have today confirmed their 2017/18 pre-season schedule, which will see them face Connacht Rugby and Ulster Rugby, as well…

Wasps celebrate

Quartet sign Academy contracts with Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby is delighted to confirm that Rhys Davies, Wil Partington, Miles Reid, and Kieran Verden have all signed long-term…

Todd Blackadder

Clare Daniels hoping to inspire the next generation of female rugby referees

The first female official in Aviva Premiership Rugby history, Clare Daniels, has urged girls and women to take up officiating…

Luke McLean enthused by London Irish move

Luke McLean is looking to reignite his international career under Italy Head Coach Conor O’Shea following his summer move to…

All Black Francis Saili joins Harlequins

Harlequins is excited to confirm today (Wednesday 21st June) that All Black Francis Saili has joined the Club. Commenting on…

Francis Saili

Bath Rugby sign Phillips from Bristol Rugby

Bath Rugby is pleased to announce the signing of James Phillips, who has joined the Club from Bristol Rugby until…


Nowell gets two tries as Lions see off Chiefs in Hamilton

Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell returned to his sparkling best with two tries for the British & Irish Lions in their…

Nalaga a big coup for Irish says international teammate Tikoirotuma

Explosive wing Napolioni Nalaga can be an big hit in every sense of the word during next season's Aviva Premiership…

Masi and Everard return to Wasps alongside new Academy Manager Jonathan Pendlebury

Wasps are pleased to announce a new Academy structure ahead of the 2017/18 season. The new set-up sees former Yorkshire…

The new Wasps academy coaches

Sale Sharks announce signing of Australia international James O’Connor

Sale Sharks have announced the latest in a wave of world class signings, as they confirm Australian International James O’Connor…

Sale Sharks announce signing of Australia international James O’Connor

Lions prepared for final warm-up before All Blacks Test

After a crucial victory against the Maori All Blacks, the British & Irish Lions are just a single match away…

Wasps sign Paul Doran-Jones and David Langley

Wasps today confirm the signing of props Paul Doran-Jones and David Langley, while loosehead Tom Bristow is confirmed as leaving…

Paul Doran-Jones

Venter integral to Du Plessis opting to join London Irish

Petrus Du Plessis says Brendan Venter was a key factor in his decision to move to London Irish this summer.…

Fight and spirit shone through despite defeat, says England U20 coach Vass

Head coach Ian Vass hailed his England U20 side’s fight and spirit after they were beaten in the World Rugby…