With the new English domestic season kicking off on Friday, we take a look at the prospects of each of the 12 clubs competing for the Premiership title. Let’s get started.
The pioneers of modern English rugby, Saracens have established themselves as one of Europe’s leading teams over the last few years.
Making three Premiership Finals in the last five years along with contesting Europe’s showpiece last season underlines their rise to the top of the game. Unafraid to experiment off the field, 2013/2014 saw Saracens revolutionise their play on it by throwing off the shackles and producing attacking rugby that was hard to resist. More of the same please.
Premiership Rugby has threatened to continue with their league programme during next year’s Rugby World Cup unless a deal can be reached with the RFU.
Tensions have been running high between Premiership Rugby and the RFU in recent months.
Premiership Rugby are upset after the RFU failed to consult them over the bid for the Rugby World Cup.
They are now seeking a compensation deal of £14 million from the RFU as they will have to shut down the league while the Rugby World Cup is taking place in England.
With the global showpiece scheduled to take place between September and October, England’s Premiership clubs will have no matchday income for five months – as the tournament finishes at the end of May – and according to projections each top tier club are set to lose £1.2 million.
Alex Waller’s try in the last minute of extra time won Northampton their first Premiership title with a dramatic victory over Saracens.
Saints led 7-6 at the break through Ben Foden’s converted try, with Owen Farrell replying with two penalties.
Farrell added a further penalty before George Pisi crossed for Northampton’s second converted try.
Marcelo Bosch’s try levelled the scores but Charlie Hodgson’s kick hit the post to send the game into extra time.
Northampton Saints have named captain Dylan Hartley among their replacements for Saturday’s Premiership final against Saracens at Twickenham.
But the hooker’s England team-mate Mako Vunipola is missing for Sarries having had surgery on a dislocated patella.
Saints are aiming for their first-ever Premiership title, after losing to rivals Leicester in last year’s final.
Saracens booked a place in the Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham when they beat Harlequins 31-17 in the Premiership Semi-final at Allianz Park.
Saracens gradually saw off Harlequins to keep their dreams of winning the double alive.
The lead was evenly shared up until the 60-minute mark, with the league’s best side stretching away in the late May sunshine as Harlequins faded in a bruising encounter. Saracens scored 20 unanswered points in the second half.
A total of 14 possible points went begging as kickers Owen Farrell and Marcelo Bosch toiled with the conditions and their accuracy, but they were not made to pay in the end.
England and Harlequins fullback Mike Brown has been named Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Awards.
Brown has enjoyed a breakthrough season for both Harlequins and England and was acclaimed by his Director of Rugby, Conor O’Shea, as “a model of consistency, and also a match winner.”
The Harlequins man beat a stellar list of Aviva Premiership Rugby players to the award. He was joined on the shortlist by Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers), Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints), Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors), Jacques Burger (Saracens) and Dan Braid (Sale Sharks).
A number of English Premiership Rugby clubs ars said to be looking at playing competitive rugby matches in the United States from next season.
The USA are regulars in the global showpiece event the Rugby World Cup and the USA has been identified as a potentially large market for the game.
Premiership Rugby have confirmed that four Semi-finalists for the 2013 /2014 Aviva Premiership Semi-finals later this month.
Now that the final Round of Premiership league matches have been completed the Semi-finalists have been determined.
England’s leading clubs will not allow players to take part in the Wales trial on Friday, 30 May. The availability of some Wales stars was in any case in doubt because the Aviva Premiership final takes place a day later.
A spokesman said Premiership Rugby’s Wales players would not be free for the trial as it falls outside the International Rugby Board (IRB) window.
But Wales remain hopeful of reaching a deal over England-based players.
Aviva Premiership Rugby club Newcastle Falcons have signed Tuilagi brothers Alesana “Alex” and Anitelea “Andy” on two-year deals ahead of the 2014-15 Aviva Premiership season.
Samoan internationals Alesana, 33, and Anitelea, 27, who both play at either wing or centre, bring the Falcons’ tally of new signings up to eight as Dean Richards continues to mould his side for next term.
Ian Humphreys is back at Ulster after the fly-half left London Irish to sign a two-year deal with his home province.
The 32-year-old former Leicester Tigers player moved from Ulster to the Exiles in 2012.
“I have loved my time at London Irish but when the unexpected opportunity to come home arose, it was a very easy decision to make,” said Humphreys. ” It’s exciting to be part of a squad that’s challenging in Europe and is at the top of the Pro12 every year.”
French club rugby’s governing body, the LNR (Ligue Nationale de Rugby) has announced radical new plans (entitled the ‘New Deal’, showcasing France’s bizarre love of anglicised naming devices) designed to improve the Top 14, and by proxy the French international team, from the start of next season.
Sale Sharks captain Dave Seymour insists the prospect of qualifying for the European Champions Cup drove them to a 55-12 victory over Exeter Chiefs, and not the opportunity to impress England coach Andy Farrell.
After brokering the deal for a new European Cup, starting next season, bosses of Aviva Premiership clubs are understood to be working on plans for a World Club competition.
It has been reported that the English clubs will test the resolve of the IRB by proposing plans to create a new worldwide club tournament for the summer of June 2018 which, as it stands, is currently a designated international rugby window.
Saracens beat the world record attendance of a club match in their 39-17 Aviva Premiership clash at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
A clinical first-half display from Saracens saw them go in at half time 27-10 up, through tries from Chris Ashton, George Kruis and Owen Farrell, with Karl Dickson’s try and Nick Evans’s penalty keeping Quins within touching distance.
The second half was a more low-key affair, with Sam Smith’s converted try putting Harlequins within 10, but Jacques Burger and Marcelo Bosch sealed the victory for Saracens.
The game had a staggered start as David Strettle was on the receiving end of a swinging arm from Maurie Fa’asavalu, leaving the winger unconscious for a lengthy period of time, forcing him to be carried off on a stretcher.
Soon after, Nick Easter tried to make the most of a poor pass, but could only palm it into the path of Ashton who, after fending off Ugo Monye, dived over to score a 70-metre try, with Farrell converting.
A new European Cup accord will be signed this week after nearly two years of fraught negotiations and stand-offs. The six unions involved in the tournament, together with officials from competing sides in England, France and Wales, met in Paris on Monday to finalise the details.
It was hoped the stakeholders would be able to sign the heads of agreement at the meeting but the translation of the document into Italian was completed only over the weekend and their rugby federation said it had not had time to fully scrutinise it.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has chosen to keep the players in his starting line up for last weekend’s Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland in camp this week rather than releasing them.
While Lancaster has retained his starting side he has released the replacements back to their Premiership clubs.
English Premiership clubs will reportedly benefit from a 10 percent rise in the salary cap in an attempt to halt the exodus of players to France.
The arrival of 2014 coincides with the second half of the English Premiership competition, which kicks off this weekend.
As we bid farewell to 2013 and move into 2014, the European rugby circuit is still active, albeit less active than normal.
We take a brief look at the appointment of referees and match officials till 5 January 2014.
Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill accused Sale of “cheating” at the scrum following their 30-23 victory over the Sharks at Welford Road.
Whilst South African and Southern Hemisphere referees are sitting with their feet up or bare feet in the sand at the coast this Festive Season, their Northern Hemisphere counterparts are still at work.
So where do you really want to live, in leisurely summer time in the Southern Hemisphere or in the cold gloom and doom of icy winter in the Northern Hemisphere?
Here are the referees doing duty till 29 December 2013.
Saracens (18) 49 / 10 (10) Leicester Tigers (Final Score)
Saracens and Leicester Tigers did battle in the Aviva Premiership at
Allianz Park at 17:15 SA Time (15:15 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & SHD on TV in SA.
It will be the Premiership leaders against the defending champions when Saracens host Leicester at Allianz Park for the first time on Saturday.
Saracens have lost just one match this season, leaving them ten points ahead of the Fifth-placed Tigers, but Leicester flank Jamie Gibson believes that things are beginning to click at the right time.
London Irish are set to announce a takeover of the club by a group of Irish businessmen on Thursday. The club have called a news conference at their training ground in Sunbury for 10:30 GMT, where they will announce further details of the takeover.
Bath director of rugby Gary Gold has left the Premiership club. The 46-year-old South African took over at the Rec in May 2012, replacing Sir Ian McGeechan.
The season may have ended for International sides like the South African Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks, but we still officially have one Test weekend left on the End Of Year Tours in 2013, and it is this weekend!
The Barbarians take on Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon at 16:30 SA Time (14:30 GMT), with a number of prominent Springboks and All Blacks in the Barbarians side and Wales host the Wallabies from Australia at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff at 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).
But that’s not all folks, we have some quality Sevens Rugby on Friday and Saturday (HSBC Sevens World Series, Dubai Tournament) and we also have the Varsity Sevens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday… all broadcast live. In addition we have Aviva Pemiership Round 9 rugby betwwen Gloucester vs Leicester Tigers and French Top 14 Round 13 rugby between Perpignon vs Clermont Auvergne on Friday night and an Aviva Premiershpi Round 9 rugby match between Newcastle Falcons vs Harlequins on Sunday
Here are the broadcast times for Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
Five players at English Premiership clubs have tested positive for recreational drug use during the 2012 / 13 season, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on Tuesday.
Exeter Chiefs might have just got one over local rivals Gloucester Rugby in their own back yard, but head coach Rob Baxter insists there is plenty more to come from his side this Aviva Premiership season.
Aussie flank Ben White says Exeter Chiefs cannot wait to get stuck into Leicester Tigers in their latest Premiership encounter this Sunday.
Buoyed by back-to-back league wins over London Wasps and London Irish, the Chiefs are now busy preparing themselves for the visit of the defending champions to Sandy Park.
In what can surely only be described as a moment of madness Gloucester’s loose head prop Nick Wood looked down lifted his right leg and brought it down on former Bulls flanker Jacques Burger’s head as he lay prone at the bottom of a ruck. This meant Wood’s participation in Gloucester’s Premiership match away to Saracens on Saturday ended within a minute and a half of it starting as the referee quite rightly brandished the red card.
Leicester Tigers may have started the new Premiership season with a bonus-point victory but flank Julian Salvi insists the reigning champions are gunning for an even more ruthless performance next time out.
Newcastle Falcons will be keen to prove they are worthy when they get the 2013/14 Premiership season underway against Bath at Kingston Park tonight. While the opening round has a number of intriguing fixtures – London Irish v Saracens, Gloucester v Sale Sharks, Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs, London Wasps v Harlequins and Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors – it is the Falcons that will hog most of the early limelight.
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill has criticised the British and Irish Lions management over their handling of injuries to centre Manu Tuilagi and scrum-half Ben Youngs.
Marketing men rub their hands as Sevens format quickly gains ground around the world. “Get on the train and see where it takes you,” is how Mark McCafferty of the Aviva Premiership described this past weekend’s inaugural World Club Sevens.