It appears Saracens rugby players will in fact participate in some form of competition after a new Trailfinders Challenge Cup series has been created.
With the Greene King IPA Championship postponed due to RFU reaction to heightened Covid-19 conditions, the demoted Saracens rugby players were looking like an idle bunch. But gratefully they, along with fellow Championship clubs and second-tier rivals Doncaster Knights and Ealing Trailfinders have created a three-team mini-series.
It will last six weeks and begin on January 16. A round-robin competition where each team will play each other home and away, four matches per club will see one team rewarded with the Trailfinders Challenge Cup. Without it, some senior England players would have had little, to no rugby leading up to the Guinness Six Nations.
— #RugbySaracens (@RugbySaracens) January 7, 2021
Saracens rugby players can participate in Trailfinders Challenge Cup
The real question of just how Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje (see main image), and others would get in condition to be called into Eddie Jones’ England team, has been answered. They will have at least played two matches by late January. That is much better than how some had imagined.
Better to for the other two Greene King IPA sides. They will also benefit, in both earlier than expected competition, and against a multiple European rugby championship-winning team. Yes, it is still difficult to relate Saracens with anything other than the Premiership but in 2021, that is about all that Mark McCall can provide.
The head coach said: “We’re delighted to be playing in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup ahead of the new season and thankful to those who have made it possible. The challenge of playing Doncaster and Ealing in competitive fixtures is one we are looking forward to and will be ideal preparation for our squad for the season ahead.”
With fixtures livestreamed, there is still no opportunity for fans to attend. That has seen the club offer all seasonal members a pro rota refund for every one of the 16 games that they cannot attend. Even though every other club is in the same position [with no spectator revenue], for a top-flight organization like the ‘Sarries, it is a major defeat – on top of the indignity of being charged with breaking the salary cap.
Now, the playing group can focus on the newest challenge; prior to March when the Championship is scheduled to restart.
Ealing director Ben Ward said in a media release; “We are delighted to be playing in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup. To have competitive rugby and a trophy up for grabs will give us a real focus over the coming weeks. “Saracens and Doncaster have both been in training for a while and we are all desperate to play rugby and get games under our belt before the league season starts. The games will be exciting to watch and we want to show the quality that is on show in the Championship.
“Thanks to Mike Gooley and Trailfinders for offering to cover all associated costs to make this event possible. As sponsors of the Trailfinders Challenge Cup, their generosity has given us a new opportunity and we can’t wait to get out there and play on January 16.”
Trailfinders Challenge Cup
January 16: Ealing v Saracens
January 23: Doncaster v Saracens
January 30: Doncaster v Ealing
February 6: Saracens v Ealing
February 13: Saracens v Doncaster
February 20: Ealing v Doncaster
Should a match be cancelled as a result of Covid-19, four points will be awarded to the team who were able to field a side and two points to the team that were unable to. If both teams are unable to field a side, two points will be given to both teams.
“Main photo credit”
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