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14th May 2016

Saracens are European champions as Racing rue decision to play clearly unfit Dan Carter

Gamble backfired

Patrick McCarry

It was billed as Owen Farrell vs. Dan Carter. It turned out to be Owen Farrell vs. Lame Duck.

Dan Carter is one of the world’s best players. In fact, until December, he is the world’s best player.

The New Zealand out-half was not fit to start the Champions Cup final, though. He was probably not fit enough to sit on the bench.

Racing 92 took a punt on their €1 million man but everyone in Lyon knew he was carrying a calf injury. There had been rumour and conjecture, midweek, that he was carrying a knock. It was more than that.

Carter limped out of the Champions Cup final after 42 minutes. For the remainder, he watched as the Saracens pack turned the screw and Farrell kicked the points.

21-9 it finished to the English side in a match where Billy Vunipola and Will Fraser flourished.

Racing 92 v Saracens - European Rugby Champions Cup Final

Racing, carrying Carter, laboured throughout and had only Johanes Goosens penalties to show for it. As the clock ticked down, former England outhalf sympathised with his former All Blacks foe. He told Sky Sports:

“It was the bane of my [playing] career. If the coaches say ‘It’s up to you’, you say ‘I’m playing’. It’s dangerous…

“You’ll back yourself… Sometimes you need someone objective to come from outside the bubble, in an objective place, and say ‘maybe not’.”

On the pitch, where it counted, you could not argue against Sarries.

Mark McCall – the former Ulster coach – has worked damned hard to hew a team of winners. Tonight, they are champions.

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