Saracens vs. Clermont: Snow fallout explained


Clermont’s trip to north London will not be a wasted one after Saracens confirmed that their Champions Cup clash will go ahead in front of fans Monday.

The French club are far from happy with how the situation has been handled, and have claimed that they were not consulted during talks over the game’s rescheduling.

However, they have vowed to use their grievances as motivation as the two sides come face-to-face at 5.30 p.m. (GMT) in an eagerly anticipated Pool 2 match that is a repeat of last season’s final.

So, how did we get here? ESPN recaps the events that have led us to this point.

Why was the game postponed?

The UK was hit with snow overnight Saturday, with the Met Office issuing an amber weather warning for large parts of the country on Sunday morning.

Despite its all-weather 4G pitch being playable, the surrounding areas of Allianz Park were deemed unsafe for both spectators and the two teams.

It has been reported that the team coaches would not have been able to get through the snow and ice to the ground, which is serviced by one road, Champions Way.

Around four hours before the game was due to kick off, the decision was therefore taken to postpone the game with Saracens and European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) working closely to rearrange the fixture.

Why was the game rescheduled for Monday?

It is well documented that the European fixture list is already severely congested, making alternative dates for the clash few and far between.

Unlike two years ago, when six European matches needed to be rearranged because of the Paris attacks, there is no free weekend prior to the next round of continental rugby.

In fact, there is no free weekend before the start of the Six Nations on Feb. 3 next year, and the two teams would be loathe to play such an important fixture without their international players.

Is everyone happy?

In a word, no. Clermont tweeted Sunday evening to apologise to their fans that had made the trip to London, and laid the blame at the door of “the club [Saracens] and local authorities”.

They followed that up with a strongly-worded statement that doubled down on their earlier tweet and accused their hosts and local authorities of “incompetence”.

“[Clermont] was not invited to the negotiating table and has had to adapt to the incompetence of local authorities and Saracens in organising this major sporting event,” the statement read.

The Top 14 side did though vow to use their grievances as motivation in the rearranged fixture.

Could this situation have been avoided?

In their statement, Clermont pointed to the fact that Harlequins’ game against Ulster and several football matches around London had gone ahead as proof that this game should have too.

Taking Quins as an example, though, the Stoop is a lot more accessible than Allianz Park lying as it does at the side of a major road.

Saracens’ home by contrast is a lot more difficult to get in and out of, and is serviced by just one road. If conditions meant that the team buses would not have been able to gain access to Champions Way, and the surrounding residential streets were unsafe for spectators then there is little the club could do.

It is an issue that the council will need to look into, but it is something that Saracens will need to help rectify going forward as it rendered their ‘all-weather’ pitch useless.