Saracens scrum half Richard Wigglesworth insists that his side are keeping their feet firmly on the ground despite their domestic dominance. On the pitch, the experienced number nine has the ability to control the tempo of a game and he is usually looking to raise it. However, off the pitch, he admits that his side remain patient and persistent in their pursuit of the title.
The scrum half won the league in his first season with Saracens back in 2010-11. He is now in his fourth season with Sarries and has become an integral part of the side that currently sits at the top of the Aviva Premiership. Wigglesworth is rooted in the present and focused on the task at hand.
Speaking at Under Armour’s IWILL training event on South Bank, London, Wigglesworth said: “The club has been building for a number of years but it’s all underpinned by hard work. We are a side that does not look any further than one game. The coaches obviously plan for a full season to develop a rotation policy, but they leave it to us to keep it simple. We play week by week and take each training session as it comes.
“There is obviously a lot of detail that goes into a game of rugby but it’s about mastering the basics. We look to get our set piece and our defence right, then we build around that.”
Like every scrum half without a death wish, Wigglesworth is quick to praise his pack. But he did not just compliment his suppliers. He had plenty to say about one of his half back partners, who is always in demand.
“I love playing with Owen (Farrell), he’s developing his game all the time. He’s now at the stage when he understands when he should have the ball and when he should leave it to the nine and the forwards. His game understanding is coming on week by week and he’s a top player now, and with such a good work ethic. He’s only going to get stronger.”
Wigglesworth concedes however that Saracens are not solely focused on the league. The Londoners still have their sights set on the double as they look to progress in Europe. Last season they were knocked out of the Heineken Cup and Premiership play-offs after reaching the last four. But this season, they will be motivated by more than bitter memories. English clubs have decided to withdraw from 2013-14 Heineken Cup and it could be some time before they decide to once again compete with Europe’s elite.
“We are desperately keen to do well in the Heineken Cup. We were disappointed with the bad result at home against Toulouse but we’re still confident that we can get out of the group. Obviously we were impressed by Connacht’s result (at Stade Ernest Wallon in Round 3) – they’re a tough side and we only just beat them away, but it doesn’t change much in our group. We still have to go and win every game to finish at the top of our tree.
“There is a bit of a joke going round this year saying we better win this year because it won’t be around anymore. But I am sure that the powers that be, whether it’s this year or next, will get it sorted and we’ll be back playing a top level of European competition. I don’t think the rest of the Heineken Cup nations want a competition without English teams because it seriously devalues it, in the same way that we wouldn’t want to play in it without the French.”
It is clear where Wigglesworth’s priorities lie – firmly with Saracens. But the 30-year-old admits that he still has international aspirations to fulfil. He has 13 international caps to his name, the most recent of which were won on England’s 2013 tour of Argentina.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to work my way back into the England squad. It is a massive goal of mine. I’m working incredibly hard with the coaches at Sarries to do that and all I can do now is keep my head down, play as well as I can and try and knock the door down. If that happens, I’ll be laughing.”
By Nathan Hyde (@NathanHyde2)
The Under Armour training event tested aspiring athletes in a gruelling outdoor training session on London’s Southbank to highlight the science behind Under Armour’s ColdGear® Infrared technology. Find out more at underarmour.com