Rugby Union: Saracens take Aviva Premiership derby with Harlequins to London Stadium
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Sarries take game to east London as they look to get back to winning ways in league
Saracens will take top-flight club rugby to a new venue when they host Harlequins in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday, and Billy Vunipola is confident it will be a success for the north Londoners.
As has often been the case in recent seasons, Sarries will take their London derby with Quins on the road and away from their regular home at Allianz Park.
Wembley Stadium has often been the venue for the clash between the two London clubs, but this season sees the game taken to a new ground.
The London Stadium in Stratford, home of Premier League outfit West Ham United, will play host to Saracens’ clash with Harlequins.
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It will be the first time top-flight club rugby has been played in east London, but Vunipola believes it can open up new opportunities for Sarries.
“It’s always a great occasion when we play Quins. Moving from Wembley from last year and the year before will hopefully bring in some new fans in a new area,” he told talkSPORT.
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“That’s always a massive goal for us as rugby players and teams is trying to attract as many new fans as we can. Hopefully the London Stadium will create that platform for us.”
Saracens will hope their game at the London Stadium, which hosted matches during the 2015 Rugby World Cup as well as the 2012 Olympics, brings about a return to winning ways.
On their last two outings in the league, the north Londoners have lost to both Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs, dropping to third in the table.
Vunipola, who is currently out injured, knows Mark McCall’s men are itching to get back on the winning trail, but is aware it will be tough against Harlequins.
“In the past few weeks we’ve lost to Exeter and Leicester, and we’ve lost to teams fans feel we shouldn’t be losing to and that’s something we need to learn from,” added the 25-year-old.
“You can probably put Quins in there; it sounds arrogant but it’s not. It’s one of those games where people expect us to win and that feeds into our psyche.
“That’s why Quins are always a tough opponent for us as they always manage to beat us which is what makes the game such a tasty encounter.”
It seems, then, that it is not just bragging rights on offer for Saracens in their London derby with Harlequins on Saturday.