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Chief executive Edward Griffiths believes Saracens left a 'legacy' after Heineken Cup match played in Belgium
The Men in Black move into their new Barnet home at Allianz Park in January but in the meantime are playing their home games in a variety of locations including Twickenham, Wembley and most recently, Belgium’s Le Stade Roi Baudouin.
Saracens won the match 30-13 thanks to tries from Chris Wyles, Steve Borthwick and Will Fraser, and three penalties from Charlie Hodgson, but Griffiths insists the match was about more than just the result.
“Sometimes as a rugby club you have to look beyond the game, the points table and the competition and you have to see how you can help develop the game,” Griffiths said.
“The growth of rugby in Belgium in ten years has been extraordinary from something like a couple of thousand players to 28,000 or something now.
“If there’s one child who is inspired to play rugby and enjoy everything the game has to offer I think the game is a success, and we had several thousand, so I think from that point of view it’s been well worthwhile.”
Local authorities in Brussels allowed Saracens to use the stadium for free and as a result the club made a profit greater than they would have done if the match had been staged at Vicarage Road.
In exchange the club agreed 20 per cent of the profit would go to Belgium rugby and in addition to the financial arrangement, Griffiths was determined to make a wider impact as well.
He said: “We were very careful to construct something that wouldn’t just be the circus arriving, putting up the tent and then disappearing into the night.
“We wanted it to be something that would leave a legacy for rugby, not only in the hearts and minds of the youngsters, but in terms of Euros as well.
Around 2,000 Saracens fans followed the team to Belgium and Griffiths insisted he had received no complaints about playing the match further afield.
Director of rugby Mark McCall praised the supporters who made the trip and said the players had enjoyed the experience.
“It was absolutely brilliant, it felt a bit like our first time at Wembley - people ask me if it feels like an away game but it doesn’t because we have control of the ground and how everything goes.
“The fans were brilliant too, I think everyone enjoyed their day going to Brussels - it was either going to be in Belgium or in Watford so I think everyone was probably happy.”
Griffiths said Saracens could play in Brussels again in the future but insisted the club is very much looking forward to playing at its new home in Barnet.
The team will work to a model of playing two games at Wembley each season and the rest at Allianz Park, although it is likely the club may play abroad in some friendly fixtures.
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