Big European Preview: Racing 92 vs Saracens Men
Saracens face Racing 92 in Paris for the second time this season after reaching the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final with victory over Leinster.
The Men in Black lost with at young side at Paris La Défense Arena in Round 1 back in November before narrowly beating Les Ciel et Blanc at Allianz Park to secure progression to the quarter-finals.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s last four meeting.
Racing 92 vs Saracens
Date: Saturday 26th September
Kick-off: 13H00 UK time
Competition: Heineken Champions Cup semi-final
Venue: Paris La Défense Arena, Paris
Referee: Nigel Owens (WAL) Assistants: Pascal Gauzere (FRA), Mathieu Raynal (FRA) TMO: Eric Briquet Campin (FRA)
Saracens: Daly, Lewington, Taylor, Barritt (c), Maitland, Goode, Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, George, Koch, Itoje, Swinson, Rhodes, Wray, Billy Vunipola. Reps: Woolstencroft, Barrington, Clarey, Hunter-Hill, Clark, Davies, Manu Vunipola, Morris.
Racing 92: Zebo, Thomas, Vakatawa, Klemenczak, Imhoff, Russell, Iribaren (c); Ben Arous, Chat, Henri, Ryan, Bird, Lauret, Sanconnie, Claassen. Reps: Baubigny, Kolingar, Oz, Palu, Chouzenoux, Machenaud, Gibert, Trinh-Duc.
Pool 4 winners Racing 92 navigated the ‘Pool of Death’ by beating every side at home. However, a 21-21 draw at Munster Rugby in Round 2 and a 27-24 Round 6 loss at Saracens meant the French club slid into the fifth seeding slot.
In lockdown, Les Racingmen lost full-back Brice Dulin and prop Ben Tameifuna to La Rochelle and Bordeaux Begles respectively but did bring in Australian duo Kurtley Beale and Luke Jones as well as Donovan Taofifenua.
In the quarter-final, Racing battled to a 36-27 win on the road against Clermont Auvergne to reach the last four of the Champions Cup for a third.
Each time they have reached the semi-final previously, they have gone on to reach the final, losing to Saracens in the 2016 showdown and Leinster two years later.
LAST TIME OUT
Saracens 27-24 Racing 92
Saturday 19th January 2020
Heineken Champions Cup Round 6
Saracens’ place in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals was secured with a narrow victory over Racing 92 at Allianz Park.
On an emotionally charged afternoon for the hosts following confirmation of their relegation, Sarries had Will Skelton sent off just before half-time and trailed at the break before hitting back.
Maro Itoje barrelled over in the second minute and Mako Vunipola added a second for the Men in Black. Racing replied through Virimi Vakatawa and the France international scored again following a Louis Dupichot finish to put the French side out in front.
Racing were first off the mark after the break as Teddy Iribaren nailed a long-range penalty to take the lead up to seven, before Itoje crossed for his second a few minutes later to level things after Brad Barritt's cross-field kick to Duncan Taylor.
Fly-half Owen Farrell claimed three points in the closing stages to secure a crucial win.
A WORD FROM BOTH CAMPS
Racing 92 scrum-half Teddy Iribaren: “We don’t care about our record against Saracens and it doesn’t give us any more pleasure to beat Saracens than Leinster. We just concentrate on ourselves and what we want is to be European champions.”
Saracens full-back Elliot Daly: “It’s all eyes on this competition for us this year. There are some huge boys in that changing room who won’t be Sarries next year, so we are doing it for them at the moment. We have hopefully two more games.”
HEAD TO HEAD
Racing: 1st, Pool 4, 23 points.
Saracens: 2nd, Pool 4, 18 points.
Racing wins: 2
Saracens wins: 6
Leading 2019/20 points-scorers
Racing: Teddy Iribaren 48, Maxime Machenaud 38, Teddy Thomas 30
Saracens: Manu Vunipola 26, Alex Goode 19, Owen Farrell 17
- Saracens have won six of their eight meetings with Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup, including victories in both knockout clashes during that sequence (2015 QF, 2016 final). However, Racing were victorious at Paris La Défense Arena in Round 1 this season.
- Racing have reached the semi-finals for the third time, qualifying for the final on both previous occasions. Saracens have reached this stage on seven occasions (W4, L3), winning their last three semi-finals in a row.
- Saracens have won 14 of their 16 Heineken Champions Cup matches since the beginning of 2018/19, although one of their two defeats was that 30-10 loss to Racing in Round 1.
- Saracens have won 10 of their last 11 knockout fixtures in the Heineken Champions Cup, including their last four in a row, with their only defeat in that spell against Leinster in the 2018 quarter-final.
- Racing have made 88 clean breaks this season, more than any other side and their highest total in this category was against Saracens in Round 1 (20).
- Maro Itoje made 19 tackles in the quarter-final victory over Leinster while his teammates Brad Barritt and Duncan Taylor made the joint most tackles of any back (16 each).