Sarries set for Cape Town experiment
July 22, 2011
Saracens could take a Heineken Cup game to Newlands © Getty Images
Saracens could break new ground next season by hosting a Heineken Cup Pool game in Cape Town.
The reigning Aviva Premiership champions have taken innovative steps to enhance the club's brand in the past, playing several matches at Wembley. Reports surfaced on Friday that Saracens are looking to play January's match with Top 14 club Biarritz in Cape Town, either at Newlands stadium or the Cape Town Stadium.
The north London club, who signed South Africa captain John Smit earlier this month, have now confirmed its proposal to play in the country through a statement on its official website. "Following media speculation this morning, Saracens confirm it has applied to ERC (European Rugby Cup), the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and SA Rugby (South African Rugby Football Union) for permission to play the Heineken Cup Round 5 match against Biarritz in Cape Town," the club statement read.
"The club will continue to engage with these bodies, and other important stakeholders such as sponsors and broadcasters, and is committed to acting in the best interests of European rugby. In addition, the club will consult widely and seriously with season-ticket holders and supporters before reaching any final decision."
Saracens' statement echoed comments made by the club's chief executive Edward Griffiths last night.
"The idea of playing one of our Heineken Cup matches in Cape Town has been mooted, and it is appealing in many ways, but our first obligation is to protect the interests of our supporters," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"We have made contact with ERC, the RFU and SA Rugby, but we are primarily engaged with our season-ticket holders to explore how, either by compensation or other means, we can make this work for them.
"On a broader level we are a genetically innovative club and, with the permission of ERC and the respective unions, the sponsors and other stakeholders, we would be eager to showcase the strengths of top-class European rugby on a grand southern hemisphere stage.
"It's an increasingly small world."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton