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May 3, 2013

Saracens winger Joe Maddock announces retirement

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 05/03/2013

Former Bath and Crusaders winger Joe Maddock has announced he will retire at the end of the season.

The 34-year-old is currently running out for Saracens but he has decided to call time on his career and he will return to New Zealand at the end of the season. Maddock said: "I’ve been fortunate to play with some great players and more importantly some great people.

“I loved my time over here in England. The premiership has been a massive part of my career; I’ve spent eight seasons of my professional career here, so it’s played a huge role in my development and my improvement as a rugby player. I’ve loved it.”

April 30, 2013

Saracens sign Richard Barrington

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 04/30/2013

Jersey prop Richard Barrington has agreed to join Saracens for the start of next season.

Earlier in the season the 23-year-old trained with the north London side ahead of their LV=Cup match against Worcester Warriors and he is the second prop to join Saracens for next season after Harlequins’ James Johnston agreed a deal earlier in the year.

Barrington said, “Saracens have a fantastic set-up and one thing that I took away after training with the club was the complete focus on people and how well the players and coaches go about their business. I’m very excited at the chance to develop as a player as part of a fantastic squad.”

April 18, 2013

Saracens snap up Streather

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/18/2013

Saracens have announced the capture of centre Tim Streather from Championship side Nottingham.

Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall said: "We have been watching Tim for some time and he has proved himself one of the most impressive centres in the Championship. We're delighted he's chosen to advance his career at Saracens."

Streather, 24, added: "Saracens are a fantastic club who consistently challenge for top honours and I am extremely excited about adding something to a group of players who are of the highest calibre."

Falcons swoop for Saull

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/18/2013

Promotion-chasing Championship side Newcastle have announced the signing of Saracens flanker Andy Saull.

Saull, 24, an England Saxons international, joins former team-mates Adam Powell and Noah Cato on Tyneside and is the Falcons’ third acquisition for the 2013-14 season after experienced international scrum-half Mike Blair and Harlequins fly-half Rory Clegg signed on the dotted line.

"I am really looking forward to the challenge of playing for Newcastle Falcons, and I have heard nothing but good things about the place from Adam [Powell] and Noah [Cato],” said Saull. "They told me how professional the set-up is up there under Dean Richards, and there are certainly big plans in place at the club to go all the way to the top."

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Andy is a fantastic signing, who has the potential to achieve big things in the game. He has benefited from an excellent rugby education with Saracens, coming through their academy and going on to play alongside a string of world-class players. I am thrilled that we have secured Andy’s services."

April 17, 2013

Vunipola named Discovery of the Month

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/17/2013

Saracens prop Mako Vunipola has been named the Land Rover Discovery of the Month for March as the best Under-23 player in the Aviva Premiership.

The 22-year-old loose-head was a key figure as Saracens moved to the top of the Premiership with victories over title rivals Harlequins and London Wasps and follows in the footsteps of previous winners - Wasps' Christian Wade and Quins' Luke Wallace.

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: "I thought he was outstanding against Harlequins. His first-half performance was right up there with anything I've seen from a loose-head. The way he carried the ball, the breaks that he made, but equally he did very well in the tight. He was up against a very good scrummager in James Johnson and acquitted himself well against him."

Tagicakibau to rejoin Saracens

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/17/2013

Saracens have announced that Michael Tagicakibau will rejoin the club next season.

The Fijian international wing made 43 appearances during his first spell with the north London club before joining Championship side Bristol last year. He said: "I’ve really enjoyed the year in Bristol, but I am excited to be returning to Saracens. The squad is going well and Allianz Park looks a special place to play rugby. I’m looking forward to helping the club move forward."

Director of rugby Mark McCall said: "We know Michael very well, and Michael knows us very well, and we’re all convinced he has a great deal to offer."

April 16, 2013

Matavesi cited for De Kock challenge

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/16/2013

Worcester centre Josh Matavesi will appear at a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday after being cited following a challenge on Neil de Kock during Sunday's defeat at Saracens in the Aviva Premiership.

Matavesi has been charged with an alleged dangerous tackle which so incensed Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall he remonstrated with Worcester counterpart Richard Hill. The challenge, described my McCall as "horrendous", left De Kock prostrate on the floor in the first half of Saracens' 47-17 victory at Allianz Park.

April 15, 2013

Falcons announce Brookes and Powell contracts

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/15/2013

Newcastle Falcons have announced centre Adam Powell and prop Kieran Brookes have both penned new two-year deals.

Powell linked up with the Falcons in March while Brookes has been playing for the club on a dual-registration deal with Leicester. The confirmation of Brookes' signing sees him return to the club he left in 2011 after agreeing to a switch to the Tigers.

The Falcons have their sights set on a return to the Aviva Premiership and coach Dean Richards is delighted with the news of the duo's renewed commitment. “I am thrilled that Adam and Kieran have signed for us, and I am very much looking forward to working with them," Richards said. “They are both quality acquisitions, and they can see what we are trying to do at the club in the long-term.”

April 7, 2013

Chris Ashton feeling renewed

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 04/07/2013

Saracens wing Chris Ashton has said he feels he has answered his critics after he came in for criticism for his performances in the Six Nations.

The 26-year-old was criticised for poor defence that allowed France, Italy and Wales to run in tries, but since he returned to club colours he has found his stride again and scored tries in successive matches against London Wasps and Ulster.

“I wanted to come straight back in and I wanted to play and prove a point to myself more than anything,” Ashton said. “The past few weeks have gone well. People in the team are providing space and backing me, and that's all you need sometimes. It gives you confidence.

“Sometimes you have got to realise that opportunities in games are few and far between, but I got a try last week and one this week, so I hope it can carry on.”

March 25, 2013

Mako Vunipola picks up Game Changer award

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 03/25/2013

Saracens prop Mako Vunipola has won the Aviva Premiership Gatorade Game Changer Award for February for his barnstorming display against Exeter Chiefs.

The prop claimed the honour, that rewards the most effective single performance each month according to Opta’s performance statistics, having notched two tries to propel his side to a 31-11 victory at Allianz Park. Vunipola is the sixth player this season to receive the award with all the winners set to compete for the Game Changer of the Season Award in May.

Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall said: "Mako was magnificent against Exeter Chiefs. He was good at set pieces and in the loose. He’s a special player and is going to get even better."

March 21, 2013

Hill set to quit Saracens

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 03/21/2013

Former England international Richard Hill is poised to end his 20-year association with Saracens by stepping down from his current academy role at the end of the season.

The 39-year-old, who earned 71 Test caps and was part of the squad that lifted the 2003 Rugby World Cup, retired from playing in 2008 and has since worked behind-the-scenes at the Premiership club.

"After 20 years at Saracens I will be departing. It's been a great period of my life," Hill wrote on Twitter.

Chairman Nigel Wray said: "Over many years as a player, and latterly as a coach, Richard has become synonymous with the club. His formal association may be drawing to a close as he embarks on the next challenge, but he will always remain a Saracens, hugely respected and admired by everybody associated with the club."

March 10, 2013

Saracens' Adam Powell joins Newcastle Falcons

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/10/2013

Saracens have released Adam Powell with the centre taking up a contract with Newcastle Falcons.

Powell has made 135 appearances for Saracens but he has decided to take up a new challenge with the Falcons who are chasing promotion back to the top flight. Nigel Wray, Sarcens chairman, said: "We have watched Adam develop over the years, and he has proved an outstanding, courageous and loyal young man. We are very sorry to see him leave and he will always be welcome and respected at our club, but we wish him the best of luck in the future, and there is no doubt he will prove a great asset for the Falcons."

Powell added: “I’ve had a great time at Saracens and will always wish the club well, but I’m really excited by what is happening at Newcastle under Dean Richards and I can’t wait to get started.”

Sale book Anglo-Welsh Cup final berth

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/10/2013

Sale Sharks downed Saracens 21-15 to secure their place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final.

Despite being bottom of the Aviva Premiership, the Sharks turned the form book on its head to defeat league leaders Saracens at the Salford City Stadium. Tom Holmes grabbed a first-half score for Sale while Nathan Fowles went over in the second 40 to help Sale to their win.

They will play Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final which will take place at Sixways on Sunday March 17. For a full match report of Sale's win - click here.

February 19, 2013

Jacques Burger prolongs Saracens stay

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/19/2013

Saracens flanker Jacques Burger has put pen to paper on a new contract.

Burger has been not played for Saracens in the Aviva Premiership since 2011 but he is now on the verge of making his comeback from injury. Mark McCall, director of rugby, said: "Jacques personifies the spirit and physicality of our pack, and we can’t wait to see him back in action, doing what he does best."

Burger later Tweeted: "Very happy to have signed a 2 year extension on my @Saracens contract..They've been amazing during my injury and got so much support from the club and the supporters...#wolfpack #greatclub"

January 30, 2013

Saracens take euro quarter to Twickenham

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/30/2013

Saracens have opted to play their April 6 Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster at Twickenham.

There were suggestions that the Aviva Premiership club wanted to play the RaboDirect PRO12 team at their new Allianz Park home but chairman Nigel Wray has opted for Twickenham.

"It is absolutely clear that people want to see big teams playing big matches at big stadiums, and that is precisely what we will deliver at Twickenham," Wray said. "We did consider the option of playing this showpiece match at Allianz Park, our brand new home stadium in NW4, but, in consultation with local residents and our partners at the London Borough of Barnet, we have decided to settle at the new venue before applying to stage a one-off event with a larger capacity.”

January 22, 2013

European Player of the Year longlist revealed

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/22/2013

European Rugby Cup (ERC) has unveiled the longlist for European Player of the Year. The panel (consisting of five individuals from the media side of rugby) has picked 15 players based on their form in the first six rounds of Amlin Challenge Cup and Heineken Cup action.

Wasps' Joe Launchbury is the only representative from the Amlin Challenge Cup with the other 14 coming from the Heineken Cup.

The Longlist: Steffon Armitage (Toulon), Rory Best (Ulster), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Wesley Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), Mamuka Gorgodze (Montpellier), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), James Johnston (Harlequins), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster)

January 14, 2013

Vunipola and Johnston agree Saracens switch

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 01/14/2013

Saracens have announced the signing of Quins tight-head prop James Johnston and Wasps No.8 Billy Vunipola.

The highly-rated duo will make the switch ahead of next season on "long term contracts" in a major coup for Premiership side who have also announced that a host of players have also re-signed for the club including the England duo of prop Mako Vunipola, Billy's brother, and winger David Strettle. In addition, Richard Wigglesworth, Eoin Sherriff, Will Fraser, Ben Spencer, Nils Mordt, Duncan Taylor, Ben Ransom and James Short have also put pen to paper on new deals.