Borthwick's final hurrah

Mon, 02 Dec 2013 10:49
Large steve borthwick charges Large steve borthwick saracens

Saracens have another reason to try and claim a European Cup crown after skipper Steve Borthwick announced his decision to retire at the end of the season.

Saracens now have another reason to try and claim a first European Cup crown after skipper Steve Borthwick announced his decision to retire at the end of the season.

Borthwick led Sarries to a semifinal spot in last year's competition before defeat to champions-in-waiting Toulon robbed them of a maiden European final 12 months after Clermont Auvergne ended their involvement in the last eight.

The 34-year-old lock is hoping to go one step further this term as Sarries look to add the European Cup trophy to the English title they won in 2011, although defeat to four-times continental kings Toulouse at Wembley last month has put them on the back foot in Pool Three.

Borthwick will be at the heart of their quest to bounce back from that disappointment with successive wins over Zebre on December 7 at the Stadio XXV Aprile and again a week later at Allianz Park but he has turned down the chance to carry on playing next season.

The former England international, who captained his country between 2008 and 2010 and wore national colours on 57 occasions over nine years, was offered a new contract but instead decided to quit while he is still in fine form.

"Very few players have the chance to retire on their own terms," said Borthwick. "Saracens did ask me if I'd like to carry on but I feel that the time is right for me to finish playing at the end of the season.

"That's still a few months away, and I am obviously 100 percent focused on improving as a player and leading this team to the best of my ability."

Borthwick has played 253 times in the top-flight of English Rugby with Saracens and previous club Bath and has made 88 appearances in Europe. A half century of those have been European Cup starts, with two more coming as a replacement and another 36 being in the Challenge Cup.

He led Bath to Challenge Cup glory in 2008 and is highly respected across the game, no more so than by his current employers, for whom he has been instrumental in their rise to the top echelons of the European game.

"Steve has become a Saracens legend, as a leader, as a player, as a man who sets the highest standards in everything he does," said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall.

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 09 December 2016
Northampton Saints v Leinster 19h45 Franklin's Gardens
Sat, 10 December 2016
Ulster v Clermont Auvergne 13h00 Kingspan Stadium
Munster v Leicester Tigers 15h15 Thomond Park
Racing Metro v Glasgow Warriors 16h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Saracens v Sale Sharks 17h30 Allianz Park
Zebre v Toulouse 20h45 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Sun, 11 December 2016
Wasps v Connacht 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Montpellier v Castres 14h00 Altrad Stadium
Toulon v Scarlets 16h15 Stade Felix Mayol
Exeter Chiefs v Bordeaux 17h30 Sandy Park
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 1 1 0 0 5
Glasgow Warriors 2 1 0 1 5
Leicester Tigers 2 1 0 1 4
Racing Metro 1 0 0 1 0
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Connacht 2 2 0 0 9
Wasps 2 1 1 0 7
Toulouse 2 0 1 1 3
Zebre 1 0 0 1 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 2 2 0 0 9
Toulon 2 1 0 1 4
Scarlets 2 1 0 1 4
Sale Sharks 2 0 0 2 0
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 2 1 0 1 6
Castres 2 1 0 1 5
Montpellier 2 1 0 1 5
Northampton Saints 2 1 0 1 4
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 2 2 0 0 10
Bordeaux 2 1 0 1 5
Ulster 2 1 0 1 4
Exeter Chiefs 2 0 0 2 1