Guinness Premiership

From Academic Kids

The Guinness Premiership is the present name for the leading rugby union league competition for English clubs. It has had the following sponsorship names in the past:

The league has traditionally been dominated by two clubs, Bath and Leicester.

The RFU long resisted leagues as they believed that they would increase 'dirty' play and put pressure on clubs to pay their players (thus breaking the amateur ethos). Instead clubs arranged their own friendlies and had traditional games. The only 'competition' that existed was a county championship that was not very popular outside Cornwall.

In 1972 the RFU sanctioned a knock-out cup now known as the Powergen Cup and this was followed in the late 80s by merit tables. One of the casualties of the move to competitive leagues was the loss of traditional games as the new fixture lists did not allow enough time for them.

Clubs in the Guinness Premiership are allocated a 2.25m wage bill to pay their players in a season. This cap was raised from 2m in 2004-05, but many argue it should be higher. The RFU pay clubs 30,000 compensation a year per England player on the understanding they are released for international duty. The trouble is, it is hard to replace players of such calibre even with 30,000. It means many clubs are forced to play large chunks of the season without their best players.

Debate rages over whether promotion and relegation should exist. Benefactors of Premiership clubs are reluctant, in some cases, to add further investment with the fear of relegation looming. Some believe removing that uncertainty would enable more investment, allowing the sport to grow.



The following twelve teams will play in the league during the 2005-06 season:

Bristol earned promotion from National Division One, while Harlequins were relegated.


By year

Courage League

Allied Dunbar Premiership

Zurich Premiership

Championship Finals

on all occasions at Twickenham Stadium

* 13 May 2001Leicester - Bath 22-10 (33,500)
*8 June 2002Gloucester - Bristol 28-23 (28,500)
*31 May 2003Wasps -Gloucester 39-3 (42,000)
*29 May 2004Wasps -Bath 10-6 (59,500)
*14 May 2005Wasps -Leicester Tigers 39-14 (66,000)

In 2000/01 an 8-team-play-off system was implemented, but the regular season champion was still considered English champion ("Zurich Premiership title") with the playoff champion claiming the "Zurich Championship title".

In the 2001/02 season a controversial knock-out cup style play-off system was introduced. Half-way through the season, with Leicester odds-on to win their fourth title in succession, the league decided that the winners of the playoffs would be crowned champions. There was an outcry from fans and this proposal was dropped, but the next year a similar proposal was adopted under which the winner of the league had to play the winner of a match between the second- and third-placed teams for the title. Although Gloucester won the league by a clear margin, second-placed Wasps (who had defeated third-placed Northampton) beat them easily in the play-offs. Fans do not generally recognise the winner of this play-off competition as the English champion club.

Since the implementation of the playoff system, only one team has won both the regular season and playoffs in the same year—Leicester in 2000/01 (the first year of the playoffs).

By total wins

Ranking Team Times won
1 Bath 7 (+1 in playoff year)
2 Leicester Tigers 7 (includes one win in playoff year)
3 Wasps 2 (+3 in playoff year)
4= Gloucester 1 (in playoff year)
4= Newcastle Falcons 1

See also

External links

English Guinness Premiership rugby union clubs:

Bath | Bristol Shoguns | Gloucester | Leeds Tykes | Leicester Tigers | London Irish | Newcastle Falcons | Northampton Saints | Sale Sharks | Saracens | London Wasps | Worcester Warriors

RFU | National team

Guinness Premiership | Heineken Cup | European Challenge Cup | European Shield | Powergen Cup

edit (
fr:Championnat d'Angleterre de rugby

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