Every man and his dog knows that Saracens were docked 35 points – an equivalent of a massive 7 bonus point wins – and have been fined the light sum of £5.3 million. And despite starting the season reasonably well, there is still talk of relegation.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is the Champions Cup. Although an early-season battering from Racing 92 seemed to suggest that they would sacrifice Europe to focus on domestic competition, they have clawed their way back to give themselves hope of defending their title. Because of this, they have the disadvantage of playing more games than other English clubs that aren’t involved in (or won’t be, come the latter stages of the season) European competition.
Secondly, their squad is full of internationals and the 6 Nations could see them without hefty number of key players. Jamie George, for example, has said what a privilege it is to play for England, implying that he won’t necessarily turn down international duty to help Saracens avoid relegation. I personally don’t think he is alone.
Where do Saracens stand now?
Without their 35-point penalty, Saracens would now be second – just one point behind Exeter. (Incidentally, if it wasn’t for their missed opportunity to leapfrog the Cornish leaders last week – who, by the way, were magnificent – Sarries would be 3 points clear). But, this weekend, McCall’s men dealt a 10-try thrashing to an ill-disciplined and ragged Worcester, to leave them on just -7 points.
How many points will they need to retain the title?
On average over the past three seasons, 4th placed teams have needed just shy of 62 points to qualify for the play-offs.
With 14 games to play and to give themselves a fighting chance of glory, Saracens will need roughly 68 points – or 4.85 points a game. Effectively, another loss would rule them out of contention. It seems incredibly unlikely that they will manage to go unbeaten for the rest of the season – unless they manage to rope in Jürgen Klopp.
Saracens average points total over the last 3 seasons: 77.3
4th place average points total over the last 4 seasons: 61.6
By the maths, Saracens will find themselves 19 points adrift of 4th.
What does 19 points below 4th look like?
In 2018/19, Saracens would have finished 11th.
In 2017/18, Saracens would have finished 9th.
In 2016/17, Saracens would also have finished 10th.
Predicted finish: 10th (42 points)
So, whilst it looks like Brad Barritt’s side won’t be relegated, they are cutting it fine. Not just because of the Champions Cup and the 6 Nations; but also because the points totals of the teams that finished 9th, 10th, and 11th increased by 8, 10 and 5 points respectively, between last season and that of the year before (2017/18).
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