The Breakdown | Champions Cup: opening weekend preview and pool-by-pool guide


As Saracens battle for Premiership survival, English and French rivals able to absorb the demands of a World Cup may capitalise

Fine is probably not the word to describe the current state of Saracens. The holders go into the opening round of the Champions Cup this weekend set to appeal against a sanction of £5m, and a 35-point deduction, for breaching the Premiership’s salary cap. They are likely to be relieved of £50,000 for failing to turn up for last week’s European Cup launch in Cardiff and as they have been considering fielding a weakened side in group matches, which could earn them a disrepute charge, the men in black may turn into the men in the red.

Saracens start their campaign at Racing 92 on Sunday, the team they defeated in the 2016 final in Lyon when they won the Champions Cup for the first time. The Paris side lost in 2018 to Leinster in Bilbao and their recent pedigree would make it a bold decision for Saracens to extend the rest of most of their returning England World Cup players, although Racing have only won one home match in the Top 14 this season and are 10th in the table, two points above the relegation zone but three off third place.

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Written by Paul Rees
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