Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said he is proud to be associated with the team after Racing 92 ended their Heineken Champions Cup defence at the semi-final stage.

The Men in Black had taken a 15-12 lead with five minutes remaining thanks to five penalties from the boot of Alex Goode during a tense showdown in Paris.

But Finn Russell’s chip opened up the Saracens defence late on as Virimi Vakatawa raced through and unleashed Juan Imhoff for the match-winning try in the 75th minute.

The defeat marks the end of an era for Saracens as they prepare to play in the Championship next season after receiving a 105-point deduction for salary-cap breaches.

And McCall hailed his players for the character they have shown during a testing period in the club’s history following the 19-15 defeat to the French Top 14 outfit.

“I’m so proud to be associated with them,” he said. “Not just the courage that they have on the field that I think was obvious to everyone, but how they are off the field as well.

“The level of support and care they have for each other which we’ve seen over the last seven or eight weeks so they are a group to be proud of and associated with.”

Long-serving club legends Richard Wigglesworth and Brad Barritt are both leaving Allianz Park at the end of the season and McCall paid a special tribute to the duo after the final whistle.

“They have had extraordinary careers at our club, they’ve been legends of the club - their contribution on and off the field over a long period of time is incredible,” he continued.

“Their legacy at the club is never going to be determined by the result of this game. Their fight, their bravery, their courage and their skill, their legacy was established a long time ago.

“We will reflect this week on their contributions and their time at the club, that’s the right thing to do before we play Bath next weekend.”

Saracens have two more Gallagher Premiership games against Worcester Warriors and Bath Rugby before starting life in the Championship next season.

And having given several young players an opportunity on the biggest stage in club rugby, McCall is confident that experience will serve Saracens well as they embark on a new chapter.

“For some of those younger players to have experienced what they have experienced on this stage is great but it’s more important to be a part of the group they’ve been a part of," he said.

“They have seen what unity creates, what spirit creates and if we can bring forward those characteristics and those qualities for our new journey then we’ll be okay.”