How Steve Borthwick’s shrewd strategy inspired Leicester to famous upset victory

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Steve Borthwick’s official start date at Leicester was July 1, 2020. That evening, the club’s newly appointed chief executive Andrea Pinchen addressed the fans via a social media feed. During it, she confirmed that a number of first-team players, including Manu Tuilagi, would leave after refusing pay cuts.

Among those who left was Telusa Veainu, who left a message during the broadcast suggesting that Pinchen had forgotten to name a person and that Jordan Taufua would also be on his way. As it happened, Taufua ended up staying a little longer. But one unedifying episode summed up the chaotic mess Borthwick had entered into.

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The Tigers completed their turnaround on Saturday by ousting Saracens in a tense and close Premiership final. Borthwick despises the limelight and, as his captain Ellis Genge later explained, cringes at the prospect of being exposed to praise. But the strategically shrewd and dogged performance that sealed Leicester’s title epitomized his excellence as a coach.

Kick to starve the Saracens

History is littered with disappointing team displays in the finals, which usually come because that team lacks conviction in their game plan.

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In the very first moments, Tigers showed a flash of something different. From Owen Farrell’s kickoff…

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