Saracens boss calls out players after champions’ chastening Premiership defeat

Colin Newboult
Mark McCall, Saracens director of rugby, in 2024.

Mark McCall, Saracens director of rugby, in 2024.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has questioned the work ethic of “some” of his players following their Premiership defeat to Northampton Saints.

The defending champions have endured an inconsistent campaign but appeared to find their form by thrashing Harlequins 52-7 last weekend.

Sarries went into Friday’s clash with confidence but they were undone by the league leaders, who sealed a comfortable 41-30 triumph at Franklin’s Gardens.

The Londoners, like they have done at times during the campaign, once again underperformed, leaving McCall to state that a few of his charges did not work hard enough.

Unusual for Saracens

“The only thing I suppose would be problematic would be that I think of our inability to cause them problems, and their ability to cause us problems, was caused by some work rate issues, by some people not the whole team,” he said. “And that’s never a good thing to have to say.

“We pride ourselves on being the opposite of that. If you want to be the team you want to be then you’ve got to have everybody right at it from an effort point of view, and we got that a bit wrong today.

“I don’t think it’s ever a conscious choice by a player not to, but sometimes for whatever reason you’re just a bit slower off the floor and slower into position.

“And if you’ve got a couple of people, or two or three people like that, it presents problems. And we’ll have a look at it and see if that’s right or not.”

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Saracens still reside in the play-off places following their defeat but it will be a battle from now until the end of the season.

They are just two points ahead of fifth place Exeter Chiefs, who play on Sunday, while Leicester Tigers down in seventh are one point further adrift.

It shows just how tight it is at the top and McCall knows that they will have to improve if Sarries are to be in the Premiership’s end of season shake-up.

Failing to step up

“Overall we’re disappointed, obviously, last week we saw when everybody was at it and engaged what we were capable of,” Saracens’ boss said.

“Saints were some who were right at it today and some who were just a little bit off, and against a good team like Northampton you pay for that.

“We showed some grit during the game, and we show it again to get an unlikely bonus point at the end.

“At half-time we were within inches of going level but for a knock-on. But I don’t want to get away from our disappointment. We set ourselves a target of stepping up a level today and I don’t think we achieved it.”

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