Sarries push for BoksFri, 14 Aug 2009 12:08 AM
Saracens, determined to become a club for expat South Africans, are pushing ahead with plans to stage a midweek encounter with John Smit's Springboks in November.
The game, provisionally pencilled in for Tuesday November 17, will be the second midweek game on the Boks' tour - which will also see them play France in Toulouse on Friday, November 13, Italy in Florence on Saturday, November 21, and Ireland in Dublin on Saturday, November 28
Should the Boks - already scheduled to meet Guinness Premiership champions Leicester Tigers on November 6 - go ahead with the encounter against the Men in Black, it will turn the trip into a full-blooded tour.
Edward Griffiths, the CEO of Saracens, confirmed that the large expat population in London is their targeted support group.
"We are still in discussion with SA Rugby to stage a match between Saracens and the Springboks in London on November 17, however nothing is finalised yet," Griffiths told us on Friday.
He admitted that their South African connection is a key element in the club.
The Saracens squad - which includes Italian international prop Carlos Nieto and England captain Steve Borthwick - has 11 players from South Africa.
This include Springboks Schalk Brits, Neil de Kock and Wikus van Heerden - along with Brad Barritt, Michael Horak, Derick Hougaard, Ernst Joubert, Justin Melck, Ethienne Reynecke, Frik Venter and Mouritz Botha.
The Saracens coaching staff is overseen by retired Springbok Brendan Venter, with former Bok prop Cobus Visagie also helping out.
"It is well known that Saracens are seeking to develop support among South Africans based in London and south-east England, and a match against the Springboks would seem an effective vehicle to sell the club to expatriates and demonstrate that, in a rugby sense, Saracens should become their home from home," Griffiths told this website.
He was reluctant to speculate if these midweek encounters against clubs could become a more permanent fixture on future Bok tours.
"Whether or not such matches become a feature of future tours will be a matter for SA Rugby, but we would be pleased to host such a match this year because the 2009 tour schedule would not otherwise bring the World Champions to London," Griffiths added.
The Men in Black are currently in South Africa on a pre-season tour.
Saracens played two fixtures at UCT last Friday - against the Ikeys' second team, which they won 39-3 and against the first side, which they won 26-3.
Saracens next face a Western Province Invitational XV this Friday, August 14.
They return home on Sunday, before further warm-up matches against Agen (August 21) in France and then two home games against London Welsh (August 23) and Nottingham (August 25).