Everyone in "european" rugby group of death

Wigglesworth and Saracens are now warming up for Heineken Cup duty.

And so we begin another attempt to reach the top of the European tree this weekend by starting our Heineken Cup pool away at Edinburgh on Saturday.

Along with the Scots, we have Racing Metro and Munster to get past if we are going to make the quarter-finals.

When the draw was made, I was cursing our luck at being in the “Group of Death” again.

But looking around the competition, they all look like “Groups of Death” to be honest!

The Heineken Cup takes the bar up a big notch and the matches we play in this competition are one of the reasons why we love to play the game.

It is high-octane stuff and you have to be a top, top side to win this competition and get past all of the other sides that want to do the same.

There has been much talk in recent years that English clubs donÂ’t have what it takes to win the competition any more.

For me, thatÂ’s not true.

We donÂ’t lack quality in our squads in the Aviva Premiership. But what we do lack is a bit of freshness at the end of the season.

That is why, at Saracens, the coaches and players all buy into our rotation policy to get the best out of us as individuals and as a team, from the first day to the last day of the season.

The Aviva Premiership and Heineken Cup can be a brutal experience if you do not rotate your squad.

But if you can keep everyone fresh going into the latter stages of all competitions in March, April and May, you will have a much better chance of, not only reaching semis and finals, but winning trophies too.

The competition creates many memories and probably my fondest from taking part in the Heineken Cup was when I was at Sale Sharks and we turned Clermont over 32-15 in their own back yard in October 2008.

Anyone that has ever been to the small French town will know what a result that was.

We had gone over there knowing that they had not lost at home in goodness knows how long – but we battered them and got a bonus point in doing so.

Philipe Saint-Andre was in charge then and he was known as a conservative coach in the way that he liked to play the game. But we gave it a real go in Clermont and chucked the ball all over the place.

The lads were playing from everywhere and Luke McAlister ran riot in the centres.

They were absolutely shell-shocked and I remember, in the changing room after the game starting to realise the enormity of what we had just done.

It was a tremendous feeling.


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