Heineken Cup
Edinburgh shun Cape Town clash with Saracens
ESPN Staff
October 11, 2012
Saracens CEO Edward Griffiths addresses the media, March 1, 2009
Sarries chief executive Edward Griffiths has labelled Edinburgh's decision as a "missed opportunity" © Getty Images

Edinburgh have rejected a proposal by Saracens to stage their Heineken Cup clash next year in Cape Town.

Saracens had hoped to move their Round 5 date with their PRO12 rivals to the 55,000 capacity Cape Town Stadium and reportedly offered to cover the costs of their opponents but Edinburgh have turned down the offer citing their 'commitment to their fans'.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the plan was similar to that tabled by Saracens last season ahead of their clash with Biarritz that was signed off by the French Top 14 side only for political wrangling in South Africa to scupper what would have been a high-profile fixture.

Saracens chief executive Ed Griffith told the newspaper: "They've passed over the chance to stage a game that I think would have had a crowd of 50,000 in Cape Town. It would have been a one-off. It would have made rugby history and I think it would have been a huge event for the players, the supporters, everybody.

"From what I understand, there was no enthusiasm at Edinburgh for going at all. Which is sad, because last year Biarritz immediately saw the opportunity and were very enthusiastic. That fell through because of various problems out there, but those have all been solved.

"It would have created a fantastic occasion for rugby. Rugby as a sport is a game that needs to take a step out occasionally. It cannot just do the same things over and over again. We are in a very competitive market and we need to be bold and we need to be innovative.

"It's probably going to be very cold and miserable in Europe then. But people could have turned on to see this game played in the evening sunlight and balmy temperatures, and probably a great game of rugby. It would have been fantastic for Saracens and for Edinburgh and for European rugby, so it's disappointing that it can't take place."

The Edinburgh game is now set to be staged at Sarries' traditional Vicarage Road ground with managing director Craig Docherty commenting: "As a club, our commitment is to our fans and other key stakeholders, such as sponsors, and fundamentally our goal is to qualify from what is a very challenging Heineken Cup pool.

"Following Edinburgh Rugby to South Africa is simply not an option for the vast majority whose support was so crucial to our journey to last season's semi-final. I'm sure they will be desperate to support us in what could be a critical pool game.

"The case made by Saracens was not commercially compelling and, from a performance perspective, would have had a detrimental effect on our preparation for and recovery from this match.

"Edinburgh Rugby are open to new and innovative ideas but the prospect of playing our final pool game in the southern hemisphere was simply not an option that we could seriously consider from a number of different perspectives."

French side Racing Metro have already agreed to play their second round match with Saracens at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels later this month while the Premiership side's date with Munster in December is set for a "central London venue".

Saracens have already staged games at Twickenham and Wembley this season and their travels will also take in Stadium MK and their soon-to-be-completed new home - the Allianz Stadium in Barnet.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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