Director of rugby Mark McCall and the rest of Saracens coaching staff have re-signed with the club for at least a further four years, extending McCall’s time in charge at the club through to 2025.
McCall joined Saracens back in 2009, going on to become director of rugby and overseeing Saracens’ three Champions Cup and five Gallagher Premiership title victories, before the club were sensationally relegated from the Premiership at the end of the 2019-20 season as punishment for breaching the salary cap.
Along with McCall re-signing with the club, Saracens announced that performance director Phil Morrow, newly appointed head coach Joe Shaw, backs coach Kevin Sorrell, senior rugby and mental skills coach Dan Vickers and forwards coach Ian Peel have all extended their contracts until the end of the 2024/25 season, as has new defence coach Adam Powell, recently promoted from his role as academy coach.
Former England lock Nick Kennedy, now Saracens’ head of recruitment, and the club’s head of psychology and personal development David Jones will likewise remain at Saracens for the same period, while former Scotland international and Saracens player Kelly Brown recently re-joined Saracens as assistant coach.
“Firstly I’d like to thank Lucy [Wray, Saracens CEO] and the board for placing their trust in us,” McCall said. “This club means a huge amount to us all and to have the opportunity to continue our work is a real privilege. I consider myself very fortunate to work alongside a group of people who are so enthusiastic and forward thinking and we are all excited about what the future holds for the club.”
Saracens are currently third in the Greene King IPA Championship and 10 points behind league leaders Ealing Trailfinders ahead of the two sides’ pivotal fixture this Sunday, with Saracens coming off a 50-15 win over Doncaster last weekend.
International roles will have to wait with McCall and coaching staff now out to restore Saracens’ reputation
The dates on McCall’s extension with Saracens are worth noting, given it means he will be out of the running for any international head coaching roles following the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
In terms of silverware the former Ireland international has nothing left to prove at club level in England, having won five Premiership titles in the space of eight years as well as the club’s first-ever Champions Cup in 2016, plus two more European titles.
Even with Saracens’ reputation having been sullied by their relegation last year, McCall’s accomplishments since taking charge following Brendan Venter’s departure at the start of the last decade have always made him feel like a shoe-in to take a job in Test rugby at some point, be it with England or Ireland or anywhere else.
As things stand with this extension, if McCall is going to take either of those roles it won’t happen after the World Cup in France in 2023 should they become available, unless someone breaks the bank to buy McCall out of his contract.
In terms of Saracens’ direction as a whole, promotion is still expected this season despite that early slip-up away at Cornish Pirates, given Saracens have a game in hand on Ealing and the two sides face each other this weekend.
All of Saracens’ players sent out on loan are set to return next season – Alex Goode, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Max Malins, Alex Lozowski – while Nick Tompkins is already back from Dragons. George Kruis has an option to play for another season in Japan with Panasonic Wild Knights, although notably is yet to take that up.
Arguably the main point of interest is how Saracens’ coaching staff bring through the next wave of talented players at the club who are now featuring regularly in the Championship – Sean Reffell, Joel Kpoku, Manu Vunipola, Andy Christie, Elliott Obatoyinbo and USA international Kapeli Pifeleti – and how they blend those prospects with the established international core who have remained with the club, despite their relegation, to make Saracens a dominant force in Europe once more.