London showdown is getting bigger and bigger
Last Updated: March 30, 2012 10:52am
England's two leading clubs, Harlequins and Saracens, renew their rivalry this Saturday at Wembley - and the Rugby Club were granted access to the reigning Premiership champions' camp to check on preparations.
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"I remember saying it and thinking: 'You might as well say it because even if you don't make it, who's going to remember?'"
Nigel Wray Quotes of the week
The game is set to break world records in terms of attendance with 90,000 tickets already sold, and the Sky cameras will be there to capture every moment of what promises to be a magical afternoon of rugby at the home of... football!
Saracens can leapfrog their London rivals and go top of the table with victory, but chairman Nigel Wray will have a reason to be cheerful regardless due to a bet made with Rugby Club reporter Graham Simmons.
In a 2009 interview, Wray stated boldly: "I'll make you a bet that we'll get 90,000 at Wembley within the next three years."
The crowd at Wembley will be the biggest at any sporting venue this weekend, and only La Liga giants Barcelona's home game with Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday (another fixture you can see live on Sky) can trump it anywhere in Europe.
With his prophecy set to be fulfilled on Saturday, Wray recalls the claim with amusement - and has several other new and bright ideas to throw into the mix.
The forward-thinking chairman told Rugby Club: "I can recall the conversation.
"It was another warm day in the garden and I remember saying it and thinking: 'You might as well say it because even if you don't make it, who's going to remember?' Every now and then, it's nice to have a one-way bet, and this one has turned out great!
"We want to play regularly in the heart of London at the HAC Ground, we want to play in Cape Town regularly. I've always said, although it's none of my business, what if London Irish played us in Boston Massachusetts on St Patrick's Day? I think you've got to think like that because it's more fun and it's essential to think outside of the box. Be different, be a bit crazy."
Saracens hooker and World Cup-winning South Africa legend John Smit is delighted to be a part of the history-making fixture.
The 33-year-old said: "I've been here for four or five months now and there's a couple of clubs where there's a massive amount of rivalry.
"This season, I think Harlequins and Saracens have been bustling around first or second place so invariably it's going to be a big game, but if you look at the previous engagement at Twickenham, there was a full house of 80,000 people.
"Now we've got the same thing at Wembley and I think people are getting pretty excited about seeing these two teams compete against eachother."
Sarries full-back Alex Goode is equally thrilled, adding: "It's massive. I love playing there, I just really enjoy the whole experience - kicking there the day before, just being in the empty stadium is pretty special in its own right.
"For a young Englishman, playing matches there is a massive pinnacle in my career."