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Saracens Impress As Sharks Are Sighted In North London

On Saturday 25th January 2014, we headed off to North London, to Allianz Park, the home of Saracens Rugby Club as they welcomed the Natal Sharks (or Cell C Sharks) from Durban, South Africa.

As we arrived at the ground, we could sense that it was a special occasion, the sort of ground breaking initiative that Saracens have become well known for in recent times.  The number of South African Club, and Springbok jerseys was great to see, and it almost felt like being back in South Africa, the only difference was the English Ale and the weather, although at the start the sun was out.



The match itself started off a bit slow, and you could tell that the Sharks were a little rusty, this was a warm-up for the start of the Super XV season, and they were up against a team that were in the middle of their domestic season.

The penalties came thick and fast against the visitors and the Saracens legend, Charlie Hodgson made them pay, even more so when he took the initiative, taking a quick tap penalty and putting David Strettle into the corner for the opening try.

It looked as though it was going to be a long afternoon for all the South Africans present, even more so, when two of the Sharks were sin-binned in quick succession; however this seemed to spark them into life, and they started taking the game to the hosts.

The second half saw the Sharks pick up the pace, and come to the party, with two tries bringing them into contention.  The stadium erupted as Andre Esterhuizen went over for their first try revealing how many of the 9000 plus crowd were there to support them.

The elements took control towards the end, as what must have been gale force winds blew across the artificial pitch, causing problems for Charlie Hodgson and Tim Swiel, who produced some brilliant goal kicking, contending with a ball that refused to stay on the kicking tee.



The rain joined the party and soon the ball became like a bar of soap, the players that had recently left the 30 degree heat of Durban must have wondered whose daft idea this was to come to a grim, cold, wet and windy place.  The supporters not under cover lasted as long as they could but then the rain came heavier.  The roof of the North Stand (where we were sat) sounded like it was going to take off, and as the final whistle went, everyone made a dash for their cars, or the bar area that runs along the full length of the East Stand.

We had a great day, and it was brilliant to see the famous faces, and legends that graced the pitch (full team lists below) including Tendai Mtawarira (we had great fun shouting out ‘Beast’ as he charged at the Saracens defence) and the tackling machine that is the Saracen, Jacques Burger; but this was not the only thing we came away with; we were really impressed with the set-up at Allianz Park, and as a Gloucester supporter that is not easy to say…..




To me, Kingsholm in Gloucester will always be the best club ground in the country, with the friendly faces in the shed who are always happy to welcome the opposition, creating one of the most intimidating atmospheres in club rugby.  This may be me being biased though…..

Allianz Park is an impressive sight, set in the open space of NW4, North London, with the stand out sight being the artificial pitch, which I personally think was great, and gave some great running rugby, in what otherwise would have been quagmire conditions.


Across the edge of the roof of the East stand are the four words that sum up Saracens; Honesty, Discipline, Work Rate and Humility (OK maybe that’s five, but you know what I mean).  This attitude seems to come across not only in the players, but the parking attendants, program sellers and the other staff around the ground.

Reading the match day programme, you could see the work that Saracens are doing both in the UK and overseas; obviously the connection with South Africa is strong, which is what has attracted us to what they are doing.  Already the Saracens Global Network has clubs in Russia, Tonga, UAE, Brazil, Malaysia and Kenya, with more to be announced.

There is a great piece in the programme, which we think a lot of businesses should adopt, and this is called ‘The Saracens Way’:

  1. Gather a group of talented people together.
  2. Treat Them Unbelievably Well.
  3. In return, they will try unbelievably hard.
  4. Now it’s time to make some memories.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Now do they practise what they preach?  To be honest we cannot answer that.  Hopefully someone from Saracens will see this blog and let us know; but then again, you do not hear of disgruntled players or the usual sports scandals.  Maybe we can let a South African rugby god tell us what Saracens was like for him:

“I like the way people are treated here.  I like the way I’ve been treated and hopefully that is something we can implement at the Sharks” John Smit (former Saracen and now CEO of the Sharks)

Our dream for Masters & Harris and Dream On, is to follow a similar path to Saracens (minus the bruising rugby bit), and they fit into our ethos of Fun, Community and Inspiration.  We strongly believe that businesses are there to do good, and to look after their staff.  We are sure there are many like Saracens, that also do great work, but there are a lot out there that are far from this, and are purely profit driven, and their staff are just a commodity.

That’s enough for now; all we will say is thank you to Saracens and the Sharks, for giving us a very entertaining afternoon; although next time, could you do something about the weather?




The Sharks


Mark McCall

Director of Rugby

Jake White

Chris Wyles

15: Full-Back

Tyler Fisher

James Short

14: Wing

Odwa Ndungane

Michael Tagicakibau

13: Centre

Paul Jordaan

Marcelo Bosch

12: Centre

Andre Esterhuizen

David Strettle

11: Wing

Lwazi Mvovo

Charlie Hodgson

10: Fly-Half

Tim Swiel

Neil De Kock

9: Scrm-Half

Cobus Reinach

Richard Barrington

1: Prop

Tendai Mtawarira

Schalk Brits

2: Hooker

Bismarck Du Plessis

Matt Stevens

3: Prop

Jannie De Plessis

Steve Borthwick (c)

4: Lock

Etienne Oosthuizen

Mouritz Botha

5: Lock

Pieter-Steph De Toit

Justin Melck

6: Flanker

Tera Mtembu

Jacques Burger

7: Flanker

Jean Deysel

Ernst Joubert

No: 8

Willem Alberts


Scott Spurling


Kyle Cooper

Nic Auterac


Dale Chadwick

Petrus Du Plessis


Lourens Adriaanse

Tom Jubb


Stephan Lewies

Takashi Kikutani


Jacques Botes

Richard Wigglesworth


Charl McLeod

Duncan Taylor


Heimar Williams

Sam Stanley


Jaco Van Tonder

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