TO bow out at the top is every player’s dream, and Jim Hamilton realised that dream in style on Saturday. Not only did Saracens retain the European Champions Cup by beating Clermont Auvergne 28-17, they did it at BT Murrayfield, where the lock had played so many times for Scotland.

There are still potentially two games to go for the 34-year-old forward – Saracens are in the English Premiership play-offs as their bid to hold on to their domestic title goes on – but he felt that Edinburgh was a fitting place to announce the imminent hanging up of his boots.

“The time is right,” Hamilton tweeted, along with a photo of him in the home dressing-room with the trophy. “This will be my last season as a rugby player. I am honoured to have played this beautiful game for so long.”

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Capped 63 times between 2006 and 2015, becoming the 1000th player to represent Scotland, Hamilton also won a host of club honours. He could have chosen to extend his career by a year or two with London Irish, but, as he explained to journalists after Saturday’s triumph, he was sure mentally and physically that the time had come to retire.

“I had an option to go there, but I feel the time is right to finish,” he said. “The last couple of months have taken their toll on my body. Would I have stayed at Sarries for one more year?

I probably would have, but they’re looking to bring guys through. I didn’t want to go somewhere else and finish on a low. What better way to finish than by winning the Champions Cup and maybe even the Premiership? Winning the Champions Cup is the way I want to go out.

“I won a Premiership with Leicester, two Premierships with Saracens and two European Cups – a couple of LV Cups in there as well. It’s always a bit surreal after the game chatting about it, but I feel incredibly honoured to play this game.

“I know I’m not the most talented, but I’ve worked as hard as I possibly can and I’ve made the most of every opportunity presented to me, so I’m extremely proud to win in Europe today. Playing for Scotland has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. We didn’t have many good days, but we had a couple of great ones. To say I played for Scotland is probably my biggest achievement; that and having my children.”

Hamilton may have played little more than a ceremonial role in the final, coming on for the last few minutes along with four other Saracens substitutes, but the Scot made a significant contribution over the course of the season.

“I know where my place is in the team,” he said. “Maro Itoje and George Kruis are going away with the Lions and they were always going to start. But I’ve played in every game bar one, so I deserved to be on the pitch at the end.

“In five years’ time, nobody will remember if I was on for a minute or on for an hour.

I played against Glasgow in the quarters and started all the games before that bar one.

I played against Munster [in the semi-final], so for me to be on the pitch, I felt it was deserved and was an amazing feeling.”

Hamilton has yet to announce what he plans to do next, but it will be away from rugby, in the short term at least.

As for Saracens, their plan is not only to retain the Premiership, but to keep on improving and accumulating trophies.

They were never behind against Clermont, and, while the game was in the balance for long spells, they had the skill, the experience and above all the composure to win out in the end.

The English club led 12-0, with Chris Ashton claiming the score that made him the competition’s leading all-time try-scorer with 37, before Clermont were able to get a handhold in the game. The Frenchmen reduced the gap to 12-7 by half-time, then were 15-14 and 18-17 behind as they continued to fight back, but in the end Saracens were simply too strong.

Clermont’s second try, a 100-metre move finished off by winger Nick Abendanon, was the score of the game. But the most vital try by far was the last, scored by Saracens full-back Alex Goode. The conversion by Owen Farrell, announced as European Player of the Year after the match, made it an eight-point lead with eight minutes to spare. The stand-off’s late penalty produced a final score that flattered his team a little, but they have undeniably deserved their success and have reached new levels of relentless excellence this season.

Four teams have now won two consecutive Champions Cups, with only one, Toulon, going on to win a third. It would take a brave person to bet against Saracens emulating them this time next year.