Saracens unchanged, Teddy Thomas back for Racing 92

Date published: September 25 2020

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall has named an unchanged 23 for the Champions Cup semi-final against Racing 92 in Paris on Saturday.

The Men in Black reached the last four of the competition by ending top seed Leinster’s 25-match unbeaten run with a 25-17 victory at the Aviva Stadium.

Alex Goode continues at fly-half after scoring 19 points, including EPCR’s try of the round – a move which saw him dot down following a superb offload from Duncan Taylor.

England international Elliot Daly slotted two monster penalties, both of which came from scrum penalties. The front-row of Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Vincent Koch were explosive at the set-piece in the quarter-final and also completed over 50 tackles as a trio.

They were backed up by industrious locks Maro Itoje and Tim Swinson while Heineken Star of the Match Mike Rhodes and 250-cap Saracen Jackson Wray were also in fine form.

Number eight Billy Vunipola provided a carrying threat along with captain Brad Barritt and wings Sean Maitland and Alex Lewington were excellent in retrieving possession from Richard Wigglesworth’s box kicks.

From the starting XV, only Maitland and Wray began Saracens’ last trip to Paris in November. Tighthead Koch and replacements Callum Hunter-Hill and Manu Vunipola were also involved.

Meanwhile, France international Teddy Thomas has recovered from injury to take his place in the Racing XV. He replaces Louis Dupichot, who was forced off in their impressive 36-27 victory over Clermont Auvergne last weekend.

Thomas and outside centre Virimi Vakatawa shone in their previous European semi-final as they defeated Munster 27-22 in 2018 and they will look to repeat that performance in Paris.

Star playmaker Finn Russell is once again at fly-half and he combines with the consistently excellent Teddy Iribaren in the playmaking positions.

Up front, there is also just one alteration as Donnacha Ryan comes in for Bernard Le Roux, with the imposing Boris Palu named on the bench.

The teams:

Racing 92: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Olivier Klemenczak, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Teddy Iribaren (c), 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Fabien Sanconnie, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Georges Henri Colombe, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Eddy Ben Arous
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Hassane Kolingar, 18 Ali Oz, 19 Boris Palu, 20 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Antoine Gibert, 23 Francois Trinh-Duc

Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Alex Goode, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Mike Rhodes, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Manu Vunipola, 23 Dom Morris

Date: Saturday, September 26
Venue: Paris La Défense Arena
Kick-off: 14:00 local (13:00 BST, 12:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin (France)