Where Are They Now - Richard Haughton
Richard Haughton was that quick in his playing days on the right wing for Saracens that if you blinked you probably missed him scoring yet another try for the club.
He scored 55 tries in 156 games for Sarries in the Premiership and Europe and played for England at the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup sevens.
Having joined Saracens at the age of 16, he came through the age grades, into the academy and signed his first senior contract in 2000. For the next decade he played with some amazing players, was coached by a cast of world class names and enjoyed every minute of his time at Vicarage Road.
“Saracens is in my heart and in my soul. It still feels very much like my club,” said the now fully retired former international rugby referee.
Yes, that’s right, international referee! Not satisfied in being a star with the ball on the pitch during a career that also took in two seasons at Wasps and a further two at Perpignan, no sooner had he hung up his playing boots than he got kitted out in a new pair to take up the whistle.
“I began with an U16 trial game at Ceret, in France and just worked my way up from there. I enjoyed it, but the reason there aren’t many more ex-pros going into refereeing is it is difficult to make a real living out of it,” said Haughton.
“I was lucky in that I switched to the sevens scene and was able to go round the world refereeing on the World Sevens Series and at major Championships. I’d done six years as a player with England on the circuit and so I was used to being away for two or three weeks at a time.
“But it got a bit draining on the family and with my employers, so I hung up my whistle after the Tokyo Olympics, when I was an assistant referee in the men’s final.”
With more times on his hands at weekends he is now able to devote more of his time to his two boys, Florian (7) and Aurelian (4). They were with him a few weeks ago at the StoneX Stadium when they were guests of the club for the game against Wasps.
“It was the first game or rugby I’d been to live since I decided to hang up my whistle. It was nice to be among so many friends and I really enjoyed the game,” he added.
“The boys had a great time, especially when they were allowed to go onto the pitch at the end. My rugby journey is now going to be centred around the boys from now on, once I find them a rugby club.
“I’d like to get involved in helping out with their team, perhaps doing some coaching or refereeing. Rugby, and Saracens in particular, has given me so much and I hope they can enjoy their time in the game as much as I have and create as many frinedships.”
It all started in the U9 team at Sutton & Epsom RFC for Richard and on his first day as a senior pro at Saracens he was joined by two other notable newcomers, Tim Horan and Thomas Castaignede. There were so many great players coming into the club in the first decade of the century that he found himself as part of an All Star cast.
It was the same on the coaching front – Alan Zondagh gave him his first contract and then he played under Francois Pienaar, Buck Shelford, Alan Gaffney, Eddie Jones, Steve Diamond, Mike Ford and Brendan Venter.
“There were some very interesting times with such a turn-over of coaches, but I found myself being mentored by Thomas Castaignede and learning from Mr Reliable, Kevin Sorrell,” said Haughton.
“The one thing that always remained constant throughout my time at the club, and is still very much in evidence today, was that the team came first. The group was always more important and powerful than the individual.
“It must be great being a Saracens fan these days because there are so many world class players in the squad to go and watch. You never know who is going to be playing in which position such is the strength in depth, but you always know you are going to see some great players.
“I think they are right back to where they were before losing their Premiership status. They’ve shown in their first few games back that they are going to be a major force once again.”
Haughton returned to Saracens for a brief time after retiring as a player, working in the ticketing office and then as the club’s Alumni Manager. These days he is working in the finance department as AGR Renewables.
RICHARD HAUGHTON’S SARACENS DREAM TEAM
15 Thomas Castaignede
14 Richard Haughton
13 Kevin Sorrell
12 Ben Johnston
11 Kameli Ratuvou
10 Glen Jackson
9 Neil de Kock
1 David Flatman
2 Schalk Brits
3 Census Johnston
4 Simon Raiwalui
5 Danny Grewcock
6 Richard Hill
7 Jacques Burger
8 Tony Diprose