English club rugby had been one of the major forces in the European scene over the last few years with clubs from the country vying for the title in two of Europe’s elite club competitions, but not any more.
With the defeat of the Saracens FC at the hands of Clermont over the weekend, England, for the first time, has been left without a representative I either of the two top European club competitions.
After all the three clubs that were representing England in the Amlin Cup, the rugby equivalent of the UEFA Europa League in football crashed out, it was up to the Saracens to carry the flag of the country in the Heineken Cup.
But it seems that the burden of expectations proved to be too much for the champions of the Aviva Premiership and crumbled under the pressure, surrendering meekly to the French opponents on home soil. The match was all but over inside the first hour of play and this has prompted widespread criticism from all sections of the fans and some of the officials as well.
According to the officials, English rugby will not be able to compete with the European heavyweights if the salary cap is not increased. According to Mark McCall, the Director of Rugby of the Saracens, the salary cap in England is exactly half as that in France and this allows the French to get the best players in the world by breaking the bank and unless the English teams are also allowed such benefits, they will not be able to compete as a force in Europe anymore.
McCall also stated that although they felt that they were ready for the challenge of Clermont, they actually weren’t and that was proved by the mauling suffered at the hands of the French side.