2009 - what changed?
Posted by: BathSalmon (IP Logged)
Date: 17 March, 2020 22:26

Hi guys,

Hope you don't mind my inteloping here.

Over on COML I've started a thread [m.rugbynetwork.net] where I have built a tool that looks at the entire history of premiership regular season results since the game turned professional.

Tonight, I noticed when looking at Saracens results that there was a marked step change in 2009. If you visit the link above I've broken down the analysis with images, so should be easy to follow.

Essentially though something changed for you guys in 2009 and I was wondering what was it? Was that the year Brenden Venter joined your club?

I'd love to know your thoughts, either here or on the thread above.

*probably should point out the Sarries question is at the bottom of the thread!

Cheers

Sam / BathSalmon



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 17/03/2020 22:28 by BathSalmon.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: Darraghgirl (IP Logged)
Date: 17 March, 2020 23:38

Feb 2009 was venters night of the long knives when 18 squad members were culled. Eddie Jones departed and Ed Griffiths became CEO. Some or all of this may be relevant

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: beshocked (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 08:57

I wouldn't say that it was just Venter. Saracens started a conveyor belt of coaching talent that day.

A lot of ex players became the back bone of the coaching set up with first Venter at the top then Mccall.


Mark Mccall joined Venter's team as first team coach too then he took over.

Alex Sanderson and Paul Gustard were assistant coaches under this as former players.

These two formed a deadly duo of forwards and defence.

There was also Andy Farrell as assistant coach.

Phil Morrow joined his mate Mccall in 2011 to help with conditioning.

Kevin Sorrell when he retired in 2009/10 became academy coach then eventually became attack coach.


Kevin Sorrell is a very underrated figure who has improved Saracens attacking game.

I would say that it’s not really appreciated how much Saracens have done for English rugby coaching in general. Helping ex players to make the transition.

Borthwick joined Saracens as a player in 2008 and had been instrumental as captain.

Also he's made the transition to coaching. I knew that Borthwick would make a very good coach because he's got a good brain.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 18/03/2020 09:06 by beshocked.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: BathSalmon (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 11:16

Sounds like 2008/09 was a seminal moment in Saracens. There was some great coaching appointments listed above! And I guess with some astute player signings after the clearout your trajectory was changed forever.

It's sad to see what had happened to your club recently. But the 2008/09 changes mentioned surely has to be a learning point for all the rest of the clubs that are mid-tabling, as Saracens were before they acted. We see a lot of clubs tweaking things here and there (players, or head coaches), but not many clubs have been brave enough to draw a line and start again.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: Roderick Flashheart (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 12:09

It certainly was brave - I remember thinking that the team had essentially been gutted, and a number of 'fan favourites' were dispensed with in one swoop.

However, I think that with the new setup came a feeling that the club was here to start making inroads into the Premiership (and not just having occasional glory days) and that VR wasn't somewhere where teams could come for an easy afternoon

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: AnneGran (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 13:27

I believe 2009 was the years Schalk Brits joined us.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: BlackheathSarrie (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 14:22

I don't have much to add but wanted to thank BathSalmon for posting the link on this board. That's a great piece of work by him/her and a fascinating tool to be able to look at the Premiership with.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: boomer! (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 14:54

Quote:
beshocked
edited by boomer

……..Kevin Sorrell when he retired in 2009/10 became academy coach then eventually became attack coach.


Kevin Sorrell is a very underrated figure who has improved Saracens attacking game

.
.
.
.
On more than one occasion I was lucky to have Kevin come to our box post match and his analysis of the game that he just had played in was amazing. He could virtually talk you through every play (and not just his) .

Amazing, and as you say, underrated.



It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: TOKS (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 15:37

Right, have some time on my hands....

Firstly, Sam, thanks for posting this, Very interesting and you are always welcome.

And the answer to your original question is "Everything"!

As others have said, it was "The Night of the Long Knives" and 19 players were sadly culled. A lot of them were crowd favourites and the initial reaction from the fanbase was very disappointed and negative. They were largely replaced with South Africans and indeed South Africa money came into the club to help Nigel Wray mitigate his £1 million per season losses.

In also came Brendan Venter, the man who epitomises the term "marmite". He was pencilled in for a 5-year stint but after 18 months left for his long-help dream of a GP practice in South Africa. A fairly raw Mark McCall took over and the coaching team continued to be developed as detailed above.

Let's go back a step. A group of 10 or so of us had had season tickets from when we started playing at Vicarage Road. So we have had about 10/11 years of watching Sarries when 2009 occurred. And that meant watching plucky old Sarries winning about half their home games and only a couple away. The standard of rugby was quite exciting but the nitty gritty grinding out of victories almost non-existant. Relegation was often flirted with and narrowly avoided. But we were "plucky old Sarries", usually good for a win and no threat to anyone.

And then 2009 happened. After one semi-final appearance in about 2006 we found ourselves in the final the following year. We weren't ready to win but a cruel late Dan Hipkiss try was a painful experience. Tigers were still the top dogs. However, the next year there we were again in the final. And that year, after one of the most agonising defensive stands ever seen, we were triumphant.

And at that point everything changed. We weren't plucky old Saracens any more. We were now winning Saracens. And in that moment our current travails were born. I remember turning to another of the gang next to me and saying "The establishment clubs are not going to like this".

Fast forward many years. The coaching took hold, the training and playing methods evolved, always seeming to be one step ahead of our domestic rivals (it took us another 5 years, and some very painful defeats to break through in Europe). And as we kept winning so the innuendo and suspicion gradually and gradually increased. We were obviously spending up to the cap because we had an owner who could afford to let us do that. Even when the South African investors sold up two years ago, because they could no longer support a venture that by its very nature was loss-making, NW simply assumed 100% of the ownership and debt again.

As a non-traditional club we always knew that there was likely to a fairly massive bump in the road at some point. We used to joke amongst ourselves as to how long we would be allowed to "get away" with winning. That bump in the road came with the recent events. The club clearly felt that they were doing nothing wrong with both the co-investments and Maro's image rights. Let's face it, if you want to pay a player more you just set up an offshore bank account and pay him. It's not difficult (and something we were always frequently accused of!). In fact earlier in the season the Bristol owner, Steve Lansdown, was quoted as saying something like I've got 20 businesses (I can't remember the exact number), if I want to employ a player and pay him there then I will.

And this is where it comes full circle from 2009 to the present day. Plucky little club become serial winners and over the course of several seasons monumentally irritates 12 other club chairmen who can't beat them. The Daily Mail publish the original story (which we subsequently discover has been drawn up by Harlequins and leaked by the Exeter and Gloucester chairmen). Those 12 chairmen see their opportunity. Convene a carefully-selected panel and instruct them to arrive at a certain decision. Make sure it takes many months to make it look like a lot of due diligence has occurred. Make the panel eminent (although given the events of the past three years how having someone on the panel who has been associated with the Supreme Court can make it look eminent is beyond me). And then have them arrive at the pre-ordained conclusion.

So a very potted 11 year history. Full of a lot of ups and one fairly significant down! Lots of things still don't add up of course. If we had wanted to pay players more we would very simply have done it the "old-fashioned" way. To quote an example the Wasps squad of 2003-2005 didn't to anyone's knowledge have complicated co-investments in place but if you look at the squad in that era and the prevalent salary cap something was obviously "amiss".

We were most certainly guilty of failing to report exactly what we were doing, which was an absolute corner-stone of the salary cap post 2015.

Several people from other clubs have suggested (at the very least) that Nigel Wray is no longer associated with the club, and perhaps not even the sport. Contrary to their protestations, this is nothing to do with any alleged misdemeanours, more the fact that we will plummet should NW no longer be involved. There seem to be a lot of people who would like that outcome.

So Sam, what started in 2009 finished at the end of 2019. Who knows what the next episode will be?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18/03/2020 15:43 by TOKS.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: beshocked (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 16:03

To add to what TOKs said

Two other things happened as well.

Firstly Edward Griffiths became chief executive. Big personality. Very much Marmite just like BV. Many different initiatives were adopted. Like the gathering, the trips for the players abroad, the big games at Wembley, the artificial pitch etc.

Edward Griffiths who had an under appreciated role in SA's 95 RWC win as CEO of the South Africa Rugby Union, became influential in Saracens as well.


Edward Griffiths very much put in place a policy of player welfare at the top. Making sure players had everything they wanted.

Combine this with the canny recruitment using SA connections it helped turn Saracens into a strong team. As well as developing young English talent.



Secondly because of the SA investment and NW's influence Saracens managed to acquire a home in Barnet Copthall with the process starting in 2010.

The acquiring of a home in North London has been a big factor in Saracens improving on and off the field.

Barnet Copthall was turned into a very difficult place for opposition to play because Saracens had a ground they could call their own.


Saracens were nomadic in 2009 and before then.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18/03/2020 16:05 by beshocked.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: BathSalmon (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 17:15

Quote:
BlackheathSarrie
I don't have much to add but wanted to thank BathSalmon for posting the link on this board. That's a great piece of work by him/her and a fascinating tool to be able to look at the Premiership with.

You are welcome! Glad you like it. I'm having a lot of fun using it to understand not just my own clubs history but also others clubs as well.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: BathSalmon (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2020 17:19

Quote:
TOKS
Right, have some time on my hands....
Firstly, Sam, thanks for posting this, Very interesting and you are always welcome.

And the answer to your original question is "Everything"!

As others have said, it was "The Night of the Long Knives" and 19 players were sadly culled. A lot of them were crowd favourites and the initial reaction from the fanbase was very disappointed and negative. They were largely replaced with South Africans and indeed South Africa money came into the club to help Nigel Wray mitigate his £1 million per season losses.

In also came Brendan Venter, the man who epitomises the term "marmite". He was pencilled in for a 5-year stint but after 18 months left for his long-help dream of a GP practice in South Africa. A fairly raw Mark McCall took over and the coaching team continued to be developed as detailed above.

Let's go back a step. A group of 10 or so of us had had season tickets from when we started playing at Vicarage Road. So we have had about 10/11 years of watching Sarries when 2009 occurred. And that meant watching plucky old Sarries winning about half their home games and only a couple away. The standard of rugby was quite exciting but the nitty gritty grinding out of victories almost non-existant. Relegation was often flirted with and narrowly avoided. But we were "plucky old Sarries", usually good for a win and no threat to anyone.

And then 2009 happened. After one semi-final appearance in about 2006 we found ourselves in the final the following year. We weren't ready to win but a cruel late Dan Hipkiss try was a painful experience. Tigers were still the top dogs. However, the next year there we were again in the final. And that year, after one of the most agonising defensive stands ever seen, we were triumphant.

And at that point everything changed. We weren't plucky old Saracens any more. We were now winning Saracens. And in that moment our current travails were born. I remember turning to another of the gang next to me and saying "The establishment clubs are not going to like this".

Fast forward many years. The coaching took hold, the training and playing methods evolved, always seeming to be one step ahead of our domestic rivals (it took us another 5 years, and some very painful defeats to break through in Europe). And as we kept winning so the innuendo and suspicion gradually and gradually increased. We were obviously spending up to the cap because we had an owner who could afford to let us do that. Even when the South African investors sold up two years ago, because they could no longer support a venture that by its very nature was loss-making, NW simply assumed 100% of the ownership and debt again.

As a non-traditional club we always knew that there was likely to a fairly massive bump in the road at some point. We used to joke amongst ourselves as to how long we would be allowed to "get away" with winning. That bump in the road came with the recent events. The club clearly felt that they were doing nothing wrong with both the co-investments and Maro's image rights. Let's face it, if you want to pay a player more you just set up an offshore bank account and pay him. It's not difficult (and something we were always frequently accused of!). In fact earlier in the season the Bristol owner, Steve Lansdown, was quoted as saying something like I've got 20 businesses (I can't remember the exact number), if I want to employ a player and pay him there then I will.

And this is where it comes full circle from 2009 to the present day. Plucky little club become serial winners and over the course of several seasons monumentally irritates 12 other club chairmen who can't beat them. The Daily Mail publish the original story (which we subsequently discover has been drawn up by Harlequins and leaked by the Exeter and Gloucester chairmen). Those 12 chairmen see their opportunity. Convene a carefully-selected panel and instruct them to arrive at a certain decision. Make sure it takes many months to make it look like a lot of due diligence has occurred. Make the panel eminent (although given the events of the past three years how having someone on the panel who has been associated with the Supreme Court can make it look eminent is beyond me). And then have them arrive at the pre-ordained conclusion.

So a very potted 11 year history. Full of a lot of ups and one fairly significant down! Lots of things still don't add up of course. If we had wanted to pay players more we would very simply have done it the "old-fashioned" way. To quote an example the Wasps squad of 2003-2005 didn't to anyone's knowledge have complicated co-investments in place but if you look at the squad in that era and the prevalent salary cap something was obviously "amiss".

We were most certainly guilty of failing to report exactly what we were doing, which was an absolute corner-stone of the salary cap post 2015.

Several people from other clubs have suggested (at the very least) that Nigel Wray is no longer associated with the club, and perhaps not even the sport. Contrary to their protestations, this is nothing to do with any alleged misdemeanours, more the fact that we will plummet should NW no longer be involved. There seem to be a lot of people who would like that outcome.

So Sam, what started in 2009 finished at the end of 2019. Who knows what the next episode will be?

Thank you TOKS! When I first posted, I was hoping for some real fan insight, as I wasnt sure if what I was looking at in terms of the charts had any reason meaning. Hence the question: 2009, what happened?

So thank you for writing such a comprehensive recording of events. And to everyone else that contributed.

Re: 2009 - what changed?
Posted by: boomer! (IP Logged)
Date: 20 March, 2020 10:45

Quote:
TOKS
………….. That bump in the road came with the recent events. The club clearly felt that they were doing nothing wrong with both the co-investments and Maro's image rights. Let's face it, if you want to pay a player more you just set up an offshore bank account and pay him. It's not difficult (and something we were always frequently accused of!). In fact earlier in the season the Bristol owner, Steve Lansdown, was quoted as saying something like I've got 20 businesses (I can't remember the exact number), if I want to employ a player and pay him there then I will.


So Sam, what started in 2009 finished at the end of 2019. Who knows what the next episode will be?

Good potted history TOKS. But is did bring up some memories of those 2004-2010 days when my employer was the club sponsor that Id rather forget.


I know that in an interview published in November 2019 in the i (whatever that is) , Sale owner, Simon? Orange, stated that it is relatively easy to get round the salary cap. He added that " the truth of the matter is, if you wanted to do it, it's easy. I am involved in 30 different companies, and if any of those companies decided to pay the players or employ their wives......I am not saying nobody could find out, but the (PRL) audit wouldn't find it."



It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20/03/2020 10:47 by boomer!.

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