Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall taking ‘short break’ for medical reasons

·2-min read
  • Joe Shaw and assistants will take overall control of first team

  • ‘Mark will be given all the time he needs,’ reads club statement

Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall is to take “a short break” from his role for medical reasons, the club has announced. No further details have been disclosed, with the club requesting that McCall’s privacy be respected.

The former Ireland international has been in charge at Saracens for over a decade, guiding the club to five league titles and three European Champions Cups. They currently sit second in the Premiership, eight points behind leaders Leicester ahead of Sunday’s visit to Wasps, and could yet qualify for the knockout stage of the European Challenge Cup.

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The 54-year-old also steered Saracens through their season in the Championship in 2020-21 following their relegation for breaching salary cap regulations. Under his stewardship the club clinched the European and domestic double in both 2015-16 and 2018-19.

McCall is understood to have been at Saracens’ training ground this week but, for now, overall control of first-team affairs will pass to head coach Joe Shaw and assistants Dan Vickers, Kevin Sorrell, Ian Peel and Adam Powell.

“People will always come first at our club and Mark will be given all of the support and time he needs,” read the Saracens’ statement. “Mark is obviously more than confident in the coaching team he has worked with for many years to temporarily take the reins.”

McCall has repeatedly made clear that Saracens believe in collective leadership. “We were very determined when this began years ago that the club would never be reliant on one person,” he said last year. “It would be a very poor organisation, a very average organisation, which does that.”

Saracens also have the benefit of being able to select Mako and Billy Vunipola this weekend alongside fellow England internationals Ben Earl, Alex Lozowski and Alex Goode. None of the quintet have been included in Eddie Jones’s squad for the forthcoming Six Nations.