England captain, Steve Borthwick, and his band of defeated Saracens walked dejectedly around Wembley Stadium applauding their 45,000 fans last Saturday. When they came to Leinster’s 1500 fans, Borthwick looked up and applauded them too. A nice moment, from a nice club. Their fans wear those funny Fez hats and their mascot rode a chariot around the stadium before the game carrying a Chilean flag acknowledging that rare moment of shared world joy for those 33 Chilean miners who survived living more than 500m below ground for for several months after the mine collapsed. It puts it all into perspective really.
Saracens could have won this crucial Heineken Cup game. And last year, they could have, and some say, should have, beaten Munster in the Heineken Cup Semi Finals in Coventry. They played great rugby. This year, they came to within 2 points.
The last 10 minutes was a Saracens siege. The dividing line between success and ejection from the Heineken Cup was just two wafer thin points – one mistake, one missed tackle or one penalty conceded. Leinster held out and Saracens were out, but they leave the Heineken Cup with pride and honour. As their captain’s generous spirit proved once again, there is honour and dignity in defeat.