Camille Chat, the hooker of Racing 92, intends to dominate the Saracens in the semi-finals of the European Cup, as last November 17 in the group stage.


Martin Bureau / AFP

  • Author of an excellent start to the season, Racing 92 welcomes the Saracens on Saturday in the semi-finals of the European Cup.

  • If the Londoners have won three of the last four editions of the Champions Cup, they have lost some feathers in a sports-legal scandal which will cause their relegation to English D2.

  • Camille Chat's teammates present serious arguments to scratch a team deprived of his master to play, opener Owen Farrell.

A reigning European and English champion team, doomed to domestic relegation, playing a Champions Cup semi-final.

We are talking about the Saracens here, and there is only rugby that can offer such an absurd situation.

Punished in their country for having blithely broken the salary cap, Londoners can however continue to crack down on the continental level.

Before taking a little tour of Purgatory, they could easily see themselves hanging a fourth European crown in five years.

But Racing 92, which welcomes them on Saturday, seems capable of breaking the “beautiful” history.

Here's why.

Because they already did

The Saracens have won six of their eight encounters against the Ile-de-France Champions Cup, including a quarter-final in 2015 and, above all, the 2016 final. But the last match under the roof of the Paris La Défense Arena turned to enhanced demonstration (30-10).

Admittedly, the English had then come to Nanterre without half a dozen English internationals, all fresh finalists for the World Cup in Japan, including Farrell, Itoje and the Vunipola brothers.

🏉🇫🇷 Racing 92 is launching its European campaign in the most beautiful way by winning, with the offensive bonus, against Saracens, reigning European champions!

🎥 All the tries of the meeting ▶ ️ # R92vSAR

- France tv sport (@francetvsport) November 17, 2019

“After we lost there, not by much, against a full team [27-24 in the return match, January 19, 2020], recalls scrum half and captain Teddy Iribaren.

We will stop looking at the Saracens and their supremacy.

We are capable of winning and we will do everything to.

There are not too many questions to ask.


Because there will be Russell and not Farrell

In these better days, Finn Russell is irresistible.

As lively as he is inspired, as comfortable in the foot as in the hand, the Scottish opener plays a big role in the perfect start to the season for Racing 92: two wins in the Top 14, another in the quarterfinals of Champions Cup Saturday in Clermont (27-36).

"It's the X factor, capable of making the differences as few players do in top-level rugby," observed the former international scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili last week in

Le Parisien


# TOP14 #EssaiDuJour - J2 Brilliant

inspiration from @finn_russell at the foot to orbit the rocket @vvakatawa which rushes towards the in-goal for a superb test of @ racing92 🧙‍♂️🚀

- TOP 14 Rugby (@ top14rugby) September 15, 2020

Opposite, the poison Owen Farrell will not be there.

The opening half of the Saracens and the XV of England, whom the French love so much to hate, took a five-week suspension after a red card for a murderous tackle on September 5 in the Premiership against the Wasps.

Without their metronome, the kings of Europe are less strong.

Finally, a priori.

Because his replacement, Alex Goode, pulled out all the stops during the superb victory over the Irish of Leinster, in quarter (17-25).

The usual rear even scored a sublime try, against the winners of the 2018 Champions Cup, winners in the final of… Racing 92 (15-12).

🚨 @ Alex_goode0's wonderful essay for @Saracens has been voted Weekend Trial!


He scored no less than 19 points in total in this match won 25 to 17 by the reigning champions 👏

More information ➡️

- Champions Cup France (@ChampionsCup_FR) September 24, 2020

Because the forwards are the weight

Besides Russell, Sky and White center Virimi Vakatawa is in dazzling form, and the return of winger Teddy Thomas, if he's on the go, can spark off the super-fast synthetic at the Arena.

But Racing 92 also relies on ruthless forwards.

Don't be fooled by the surnames of New Zealand's second line Dominic Bird, hooker Camille Chat or pillar Georges-Henri Colombe.

The Racing pack is of the fierce kind, while that of the Saracens, if it keeps looking good, has lost some big names this summer, like Will Skelton (La Rochelle) or George Kruis (Panasonic Wild Knights, Japan).

Despite everything, the fight will be tough, but the Ile-de-France residents will have to win it, if they want to achieve “the main objective of the club”, as Iribaren indicates: “There is no star on the jersey and I thinks that Jacky Lorenzetti [president of Racing 92], the first, really wants the club to be European champion ”.


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