Leicester vs Saracens: Talking points ahead of Premiership final

Tigers have won the title eight times while Saracens are chasing a sixth crown

Saracens players celebrate winning the Premiership title in 2019 (PA)
Saracens players celebrate winning the Premiership title in 2019 (PA)

Leicester Tigers and Saracens will contest the Gallagher Premiership final at Twickenham on Saturday in a heavyweight collision between two English rugby giants.

Tigers have won the title eight times but their last triumph was nine years ago, while Saracens are chasing a sixth crown after returning to the Premiership this season.

Here we assess some key talking points heading into the game.

Saracens back on the big stage

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall has guided his team back to Twickenham (Bradley Collyer/PA)

It is 468 days since Saracens were ambushed by the Cornish Pirates in Penzance after being banished to Championship rugby following repeated salary cap breaches that were punished with a £5.36milion fine and relegation from English rugby’s top flight. While Saracens are still despised by many rugby fans for their actions, others feel they have done their time and life goes on. Either way, they kept all their star players, regrouped and will now contest an eighth Premiership final at the culmination of a domestic season when it looked as though Mark McCall’s team had never really been away.

Tigers hunting Premiership silverware again

Even the most fanatical Leicester supporter probably needs to blink twice when gauging Tigers’ revival under head coach Steve Borthwick. Leicester finished 11th in the Premiership in 2019 and 2020, winning just 13 of their 44 league games across those two campaigns. Saracens’ relegation spared them making the drop in 2020, but Borthwick has managed an astounding recovery act. This season, they won all their Premiership homes games, went top of the table in September and stayed there for nine months. They are back in the domestic final after nine years away and victory on Saturday would represent an inspiring feelgood story.

Ford versus Farrell

George Ford (left) and Owen Farrell will be key players for their clubs (Andrew Matthews/PA)

With over 3,000 Premiership points and more than 170 England caps between them, fly-halves George Ford and Owen Farrell – arguably the Premiership’s two most influential players – go head to head at Twickenham. It will be Ford’s Leicester farewell before he heads to Sale later this summer, and he has played a dominant role as Tigers topped the regular-season league table by seven points from Saracens. Saracens star Farrell, meanwhile, is his club’s proven architect behind winning big games, and while many sub-plots will undoubtedly unfold in the final, it is difficult to look beyond Ford or Farrell running the show.

Front-row warriors ready for battle

Ellis Genge will make his farewell appearance for Leicester (Isaac Parkin/PA)

Set-piece domination, as ever, will be critical to the outcome at Twickenham, and both clubs boast powerful scrummaging units. Leicester skipper Ellis Genge, in his final Tigers game ahead of a summer move to Bristol, Argentina international Julian Montoya and Genge’s fellow England international the 95 times-capped Dan Cole have proved pivotal to Leicester’s success this season. However, Saracens also possess a supreme front-row in Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and South African World Cup winner Vincent Koch. With a match-day temperature of 27C forecast, expect the scrummaging heat to approach furnace levels.

Eddie Jones keeping fingers crossed

England head coach Eddie Jones will name his squad on Monday for a three-Test tour of Australia that starts in just 15 days’ time. Jones has already lost injured quartet Manu Tuilagi, Henry Slade, Kyle Sinckler and Sam Simmonds from his plans, with a final fixture against the Barbarians on Sunday still to negotiate before departure Down Under. The Premiership final could see at least a dozen of Jones’ likely tour group in action, including several headline acts, so he can only keep his fingers crossed that the casualty count does not increase.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in