Saracens: Mark McCall insists “still have a lot to play for”


Mark McCall, Saracens director of rugby, admitted that his team’s defeat to Toulouse put their rival in control of this group. However, he insisted Sarries “still have a lot to play for”.

On 18 October early evening, shops and stations surrounded by Wembley Stadium were packed in like sardines, due to an upcoming rugby match between Saracens and Toulouse.

Saracens chairman Nigel Wray, not long ago, said: “Saracens at Wembley has become synonymous with great rugby and great entertainment in a great venue for a great price, a really great day out. ”

It had been predicted around 50,000 fans would make their way up Wembley before the truth turned out to be 61,428.

Great Saracens

The first half, without doubt, belonged to Saracens. Chris Wyles made the first break after several interplays with winger Chris Aston. Owen Farrell added the extras to 7-0 within 9 minutes.

Apparently, it was their strong scrum that provided with superiority. Home field advantage also played an important role.

A packed grandstand of cheering spectators was bound to have a good time at such a moment. Saracens seventh consecutive winning seemed to be coming closer.

Giant Toulouse

“Toulouse dine at the top table of European rugby… it will be a big match for the biggest stadium in the country.” A big rugby fan said, Hemming Nick, before it began. One basic fact is that Toulouse is the four times Heineken Cup winner, nobody else has done that so far.

After 19 minutes, Hooker Christopher Tolofua for the French side seized a big opportunity and powered over when Toulouse had made all kinds of attempts. A hand-to-hand combat ensued. 

The big Frenchman had eventually grounded. But then the game stopped for seconds. At this point of time, a key question occurred to everyone: Is there any reason a try cannot be given?

No. The officials revealed the answer soon, which led to 7-5.

What is more, Toulouse was awarded a penalty because of a foul of Saracens during the chaos. McAlister added the conversion and Toulouse were quickly level. 

Fight fire with fire

It was not a dull competition at all. Saracens aggressively continued with invasion and dominated the field once again. Owen Farrell, the Saracens Star, landed three lethal penalties resulting in 16-7 early in the second half.

“Toulouse are a very good team and we had to fight really hard in defence. For an hour we controlled them pretty well.” Said Mark McCall.

Saracens seemed satisfied for a while and tried to put pressure on Toulouse with their stubborn defence. In the meantime, it was a really tough moment that Toulouse definitely had to face and get through if they had not given up yet.

Toulouse knew what exactly to do then and they assaulted Saracens from time to time. Whatever it might cost, they had been determined to beat opponents. They spared no excuse for themselves even though it was their first visit to Wembley Stadium.

On the other hand, Saracens did not only defense but also challenged Toulouse’s back line. However, they never cut it open again. Their intent of forcing Toulouse into mistakes, diffusing the potential danger did not work out.

Toulouse finally assigned their powerful bench to the play, they pushed over and over forward to Saracens with wave after wave of attack. On 66 minutes, Doussain scored a penalty, which brought about all the luck. It also meant a converted try of victory.

Thanks to teamwork, Toulouse then successfully took the lead for the first time in the match.

Things might change as quickly as drama. Saracens were roused somehow to fight away for the last few minutes. With just three seconds left on the clock, Saracens gained a scrum and Kelly Brown surprisingly tore up the left hand edge of the Toulouse defence creating a last chance for Farrell.

Farrell fell just short with a drop-goal. Saracens lost 16:17 Toulouse.

Nonetheless, one thing might be argued it that the ball was once spun back to Farrell in the pocket but his effort was partially charged down.


McCall saw Farrell, who was eager to play “best of the best”, knelt down on one knee. “Obviously he was distraught.”

The groan from the enormous crowd was relenting as things went athwart. “What the hell do they feed those guys in Toulouse? I have never seen a team with so many huge players! ”Said a Saracens fan, Kev.

“We had a couple of chances in injury time… it demonstrated the fight and composure of the team that we were able to do that. It’s unbelievably disappointing to lose.” Said Mark McCall, during the post-match press conference. “But we move on then.”


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