David Flatman exclusive: Steve Borthwick vs Mark McCall and the audition to be England's next head coach

Ex-Saracens prop David Flatman casts his eye over the battle in the stands as Steve Borthwick faces his old club and former mentor Mark McCall

Published: 24 June 2022 - 9.34am
Premiership Rugby Final

All eyes will be on Twickenham this weekend as two titans go toe-to-toe in the final of the Gallagher Premiership.

Saturday's winner-takes-all showdown is a repeat of the 2011 final as Saracens and Leicester Tigers lock horns for the right to be crowned kings of English rugby.

For promoted Saracens, it's a first appearance in the showpiece since 2019 and a shot at redemption following their relegation to the Championship for salary cap breaches.

It is barely 15 months since they were beaten by Cornish Pirates after being demoted to to the second tier of English rugby, but Saracens will seal a sixth Premiership crown in 12 seasons if they topple Leicester.

Ahead of what is set to be an enthralling contest on the pitch, ex-Saracens and England prop David Flatman talks exclusively to BT Sport about the battle in the stands as Mark McCall faces off against his former captain Steve Borthwick.

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Sarries back in the big time

It’s no surprise to see Saracens back in the final at the first time of asking.

Lots of us thought they might struggle to hit the ground running at the start of the season but they clicked into gear very quickly.

They all seemed to be enjoying themselves in the Championship and when they came back up they looked to be having a great time.

They’re a bit like the Fijian sevens team. If they run out looking all serious then you don’t know what you’re going to get, but if they run out smiling you know you’re in trouble.

They looked to have enjoyed their work an awful lot this season and for that reason they are going in as favourites.

Everyone knows what Saracens did and they got punished for it - but I think there has been this idea that everything they achieved in that time was therefore synthetic and that’s been proven wrong.

Saracens have always been a tight unit and relegation would not have done them any harm in terms of team-bonding.

More on the Premiership final

How to watch the final on BT Sport

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They've received their fair share of criticism in recent years but they won't care about that.

The ‘no one likes us, we don’t care’ mentality is just a chant the fans sing.

As a player, if you’re going to build something that lasts, like Saracens have done, it has to come from within.

That drive to win time and time again has to come from somewhere inside – and whatever that stuff is Saracens have got bucket-loads of it.

Borthwick the born-coach

This weekend will not be a clash of styles, that's for sure.

It’s not as simple as two sluggers going at each other but we’re unlikely to see anyone throwing double miss passes in their own half, put it that way!

It’s going to be a lot of power, a lot of clever kicking and a lot of detail around kick-chase - and that will come from the coaches.

I've known Steve Borthwick a long time from our Bath days.

He was always destined to be a coach: very analytical, very hard-working – a details man but also a really good communicator.

Coaching is a bit like commentating and punditry in that people - understandably - assume it’s all about how much you know, but it’s not true.

Yes, you need to know your stuff, research and put the hours in, but ultimately it’s how well you communicate what you know.

Borths communicates very well, speaks brilliantly and gets through an awful lot of work in a day.

He’s also self aware enough to know what his strengths are, recognise where his weaknesses are and surround himself with people who can fill in the gaps.

I don’t think he watches very much daytime TV and I don’t think he’s got much time for a dog and that’s because he’s such an incredibly driven guy.

It’s no surprise to anyone that knows Borths that he’s doing a brilliant job and he is well in the running to be England's next coach.

Part of Eddie Jones’ remit at the start of his tenure was to develop the next generation and implement a succession plan but that hasn’t really happened. Instead there’s been a huge turnover of coaches.

Nobody ever mentions Mark McCall as an England candidate – and I don’t know if he’d want the job or not - but one of the most impressive things about him is how well he’s developed coaches.

Borthwick, Paul Gustard and Andy Farrell have all passed through Saracens during McCall's tenure.

BT Sport Films

Rugby Stories - Leicester Tigers & The Obsession

In this episode of Rugby Stories we look at the success of Leicester Tigers in the early 2000s, featuring contributions from Austin Healey, Tim Stimpson and Ben Kay.

Rugby Stories - Saracens & The Rise

We look back to the 2015/16 season, as Saracens won the Champions Cup for the first time in their history, beating Racing 92. Contributors include Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Will Fraser and Nigel Wray.

What McCall has shown he can do is churn out a lot of good coaches that make players better.

For that reason I’d make McCall a very serious contender for the England job.

Adored and respected by his players, he's also a good selector, which is the most important thing as England head coach.

He’s also a realist. I’ve never heard him speak after a game and shirk a single thing.

Always frank, always insightful – just a very bright man who is absolutely a contender for the England top job.  

Follow Leicester vs Saracens in the final of the Gallagher Premiership from 2pm on BT Sport 1HD, BT Sport Ultimate, btsport.com or the BT Sport app.