(Reuters) - Saracens forward Jamie George was gutted to have missed out on another opportunity to lift the European Champions Cup following their heartbreaking semi-final defeat by Racing 92 on Saturday.
Racing’s Juan Imhoff scored a decisive late try as the French side came from behind to beat holders Saracens 19-15 at Paris La Defense Arena.
“The way we saw it was that it was our last chance to compete for a little while,” George told reporters. “We wanted to finish it off and I’m gutted, I’m not going to lie.
“This defeat is a tough one to take because we had control of the game.”
The loss marks the end of an era for Saracens, who were condemned to relegation from the English Premiership in January for breaching salary cap regulations.
They have two more Premiership games left before starting over in the Championship next season.
George accepted Saracens face a period of uncertainty but took the opportunity to hit back at critics of the London club.
“A lot of people have talked rubbish about us for a long time,” he said. “But if you look at the squad here probably our best player was (academy graduate) Dom Morris, and if you’re telling me we’re breaking the salary cap that’s an interesting one.
“I don’t know what we’re going to be facing, but the young players coming through are hugely motivated and that is the exciting thing for me.”
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall paid a glowing tribute to captain Brad Barritt, who was forced off with a head injury in the second half, and scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth as the duo prepare to leave the club at the end of the season.
“This result is irrelevant around the legacy that Brad and Richard leave at the club.” McCall said.
“We play Bath in our final game next Sunday and we will spend the tail end of the week reflecting on their contributions and time at our club, and give them the send-off internally that they deserve.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.