Saracens have been crowned back-to-back champions of Europe after defeating Clermont Auvergne 28-17 in a thrilling Champions Cup final at BT Murrayfield.
Saracens have become only the fourth side in history to pick up consecutive European Champions Cups after Leicester Tigers, Leinster and Toulon. With many of their top players still young, director of rugby Mark McCall can potentially look forward to even more trophies.
England star Owen Farrell carried his phenomenal international form over to club level and flourished in defence, while helping to keep up momentum with pinpoint passing. Billy Vunipola was also a constant threat to Clermont, powering through tackles and creating plenty of space.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Saracens. After breaking into a 12-0 lead, it looked like the game was past Clermont, but a try from Remi Lamerat applied some pressure before the Londoners held on to bring the trophy home.
As the first team to ever go 18 matches unbeaten in the tournament, the future is certainly bright for captain Brad Barritt and co.
Who were the stars of the tournament?
With dominant wins over Glasgow Warriors in the quarter final (38-13) and Munster in the semi-final (10-26), Saracens had always established themselves as the top contender for the tournament, and it was thanks to some incredible performances from their biggest players.
Along with his heroics in the final, Owen Farrell made a big impact in the earlier games, converting several penalties against Glasgow and Munster. Vunipola was also a force in both games, particularly in the semi-final where his opening try helped send the Londoners on their way to the final.
Despite their dominance, it wasn’t just Saracens that shined in the tournament. Former champions Munster proved why their defence is so highly rated in the first half of their semi-final. Precise kicking from halfbacks Duncan Williams and Tyler Bleyendaal frustrated Saracens, pinning them deep in their own half and restricting their explosive attacking play.
Even though they fell short in the final, Clermont also have plenty of players to be excited about. Winger Peceli Yato’s speed and power is sure to make them a threat again next season, while Fritz Lee was a defensive juggernaut throughout the Champions Cup.
For Saracens, the next step will be to wrap up the Aviva Premiership title, which they can win with a victory over Exeter on Saturday (20th May).
Winning the championship will give them plenty of confidence going into next season, while a loss would ruin the end of a highly successful season.
The last team to win the Champions Cup three years in succession was Toulon, who spent glamorously in order to reinforce their side. Whether Saracens do the same remains to be seen, but the team spirit and confidence is certainly there already.
As for Clermont, they will need to go back to the drawing board after a season where they came close to both domestic and European glory. After losing out to La Rochelle in the Top 14, this second loss will be hard to take and they will be hoping to strengthen in the summer to make amends in 17/18.