Saracens edged past Leinster in the Champions Cup final on Saturday, as the two European heavyweights slugged it out in a match full of brutal collisions.
The two sides have dominated the European stage, and Saracens – with no fewer than 11 England-qualified players in their starting lineup – clinched their third title in four years, completing a clean sweep of victories in the competition.
Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell were particularly outstanding, whilst Alex Goode was named European Player of the Year, adding to the armoury of those that continue to question his omission from the England setup.
And speaking of England, this victory could be seen a further psychological blow for England over Ireland, backing up the national team’s victory in Dublin, and should these two teams meet in Japan in the Rugby World Cup, England may just have the mental edge. The physical dominance of Saracens is surely how England will be looking to play for the most part, tireless in defence and powerful in every carry.
Big Billy departed shortly before the end raising further injury concerns, and Maro Itoje was sin-binned to remind us all of his potential to be a liability as well as a match-winner.
The decision by Leinster, 10-3 up at the time, to keep the ball in play as the clock turned red for half-time may be one that haunts the Irish players in particular – they duly conceded a try and went back to the sheds at 10-10. But indeed every decision can be questioned in hindsight, and some will always turn out to be mistakes, whilst others hailed as moments of genius.
There were one or two other controversial moments, and not everyone is over the moon at Saracens’ victory, but their place seems secure at the top of European Rugby.
What did you think of the game?