Saracens striving to become Barcelona of rugby - Billy Vunipola

Billy Vunipola celebrates winning the Champions Cup final with family and friends
Billy Vunipola celebrates winning the Champions Cup final with family and friends

Saracens back-row Billy Vunipola said that the club is striving to achieve the 'Barcelona of rugby' tag after their recent European Champions Cup success where they defeated Clermont Auvergne in the final at Murrayfield Stadium.

The Spanish Football Club which is the second richest in world in terms of revenue has won five European titles - four UEFA Champions League titles and one European Cup, a record four UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, a shared record five UEFA Super Cup, a record three Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and a record three FIFA Club World Cup apart from the number of domestic competition title victories.

Having completed a back to back Premiership title victories, Mark McCall's men are in line for a hat-trick as they face Exeter in the play-off and have also completed their European Champions Cup title defence successfully this season.

"A great team is Barcelona, a team who wins everything," said Vunipola after his side sealed their latest triumph with a 28-17 win over Clermont Auvergne at BT Murrayfield. " I think we're striving towards that.

"But we will see. We have a massive game next week and if we win that it will give ourselves the chance to step up the ladder towards greatness.

"It's very early days and we still have a lot of work to do before I'd feel comfortable standing here and saying we're a great team.

"We're a young team and we have more time, but only if we stay focused and grounded. It's easy to say we're all young and a lot of success has come early, so we'll win a few more trophies.

"But you have to work for it. You have to fight for it."

After Chris Ashton and George Kruis scored for the Saracens in the first half, touchdowns from Remi Lamerat and Nick Abendanon meant the difference between the two sides was down to one point heading into the final 10 minutes before Alex Goode scored the decisive try in the 72nd minute.

Speaking about the experience on the closely contested final with the French side: "It was nice because finals are always supposed to be tight," said Vunipola. "As we were walking back to halfway Faz (Owen Farrell) said to me, 'Let's fight'. I was like, 'All right, let's just do it'.

"It was good to show everybody we could get back off the canvas."

Vunipola was named the player of the match while Owen Farrell was adjudged the Champions Cup player of the tournament and the 24-year-old is not amazed with the success the fly-half has achieved in his short career.

"Faz is only 25 but he is the hungriest player out there in terms of rugby," said Vunipola. "It's amazing for someone so young to be so driven.

"We're obviously different people but I admire him a lot. He's a bit like Kobe Bryant. He gets annoyed at everyone and everyone gets annoyed when he shouts at them.

"But you can see where he's coming from. He just wants everyone to perform at his level.

"He's been named player of the tournament and that just shows you what an amazing player he is."

Vunipola also paid tributes to Chris Ashton, who went on to claim the Champions Cup record for most tries scored. The 30-year-old will head to French club Toulon at the end of the ongoing season.

"We're going to miss him next year," said Vunipola ahead of Ashton's move to Toulon. "He's not just a great rugby player but a great character.

"His record is testament to how hard he works off his wing and how much work he does away from prying eyes.

"But, as he says, it's about the team. If he's scoring we're happy. If he's not then he's not happy and we don't really care."

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