Scotland international Gary Graham believes that Saracens will be in for a bit of a shock when they get a taste of life in the RFU Championship.
Graham spent a number of seasons in the English second division with the Jersey Reds, and spent another year in the Championship last season following Newcastle’s relegation from the Premiership.
Saracens were of course relegated following the climax of last season for breaching the salary cap and will belatedly play their first game in the Championship in March, after the competition was postponed due to the pandemic.
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Ruggers, riddles and Stirling’s finest, Gary Graham.
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A number of international stars still play for Saracens, including England captain Owen Farrell, and Graham believes the star-studded team will struggle to enjoy life in the second division.
“It’s f***in’ bleak. I started off here at Jersey (2014 to 2017), but like going from the Prem down into that (with Newcastle)… Cornish Pirates want you to get changed in a f***in’ two-metre square portakabin in the wet, wind and rain and the ground is a quagmire as it is.
“I didn’t play at Ampthill but basically you have got to do a mile trek to get to the pitch. I wasn’t playing in that game, but it’s horrible. Especially playing against those teams, it’s the cup final for everyone.
“Everyone is flying into it and you have got young lads now that want to take your head off every opportunity. Sarries will get a shock if they ever do eventually play in it,” Graham told The Rugby Pod.
‘You’d rather sit in a house with red wine’
Newcastle have gotten off to a brilliant start in their first season back in the Premiership, sitting in second place in the table after winning five of their opening six matches (including one walkover).
The Falcons recent form is even more impressive because of their situation, as they hadn’t played a match in eight months due to the cancellation of the Championship season.
The lockdown heavily effected the Falcons’ preparation for the season, with Graham describing the less than ideal situation the players had been left with.
“At the start of lockdown you weren’t allowed to go to gyms, you weren’t allowed to go to the club. There was one day where the club opened up and let us steal a few weights and then I had just bought a house and was renovating it.
“It was a building site and when you are waking up in dust trying to do a bench press in some dog s***, it’s not a very good motivation. Luckily a few of us started to join together and we started a little running group at Blaydon and we’d run there together.
“At times it was bleak. You’d rather sit in the house with red wine than doing some bench press on a bench in the f***in’ cold,” Graham explained.