Category Archive: Premiership Rugby

Premiership Rugby News

Aug 10

Jonny May’s ‘Neymar move’ is sign of bigger rugby union transfer deals

• England’s Chris Robshaw believes new landscape is down to rise in TV cash
• Harlequins director of rugby says ‘market has gone stupid’

“Silly season” may be stretching it but the fact Jonny May’s transfer from Gloucester to Leicester has forced Premiership clubs to close a contractual loophole – not to mention earned him the nickname “Neymar” – is further evidence of a burgeoning transfer market in rugby union.

May swapped Kingsholm for Welford Road on Monday for a fraction of the £200m the Brazil footballer cost Paris Saint-Germain but as far as rugby in England is concerned, the move was just as significant. It came about because the wing activated a clause in the Premiership’s code of conduct which meant that, despite having a year left on his contract, Gloucester could not stop him talking to other teams.

Related: England’s Eddie Jones discovers risks of lauding ‘laidback boy’ Manu Tuilagi | Gerard Meagher

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Jul 08

John Spencer warns English clubs over early release of players to Lions

• ‘Special Lions need players at right time,’ says tour manager
• Spencer also unhappy about plans to cut tours to eight games

The British & Irish Lions could opt not to pick players from England if the Premiership clubs refuse to give them more time to prepare for future tours. The Lions manager, John Spencer, is also unhappy about plans to shrink the itinerary from 10 to eight games and believes the squad need to be cut more slack if they are to remain competitive and relevant in the longer term.

Related: Lions and All Blacks draw thrilling final Test and series

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Jun 24

Premiership expects Philadelphia sell-out for Newcastle v Saracens

  • 18,500 crowd at Talen Energy Stadium ‘integral to success’ of project
  • Executives: staging game on NFL and college football weekend no concern

Premiership Rugby expects its game in Philadelphia on 16 September to sell out, the main lesson of its venture to New Jersey in March 2016 having been that “success in year one is that the event actually happens”.

Related: Pro12 plan for US expansion with Houston team faces tough challenges

Related: Ex-Bath and England coach Mike Ford joins Dallas in US Major League Rugby

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May 29

Domestic rugby union season 2016-17 review: our writers’ highs and lows

Exeter’s Premiership victory has won plaudits as has Saracens’ in the Champions Cup but British & Irish Lions players need careful management next season

Exeter Chiefs. Saracens are back-to-back European champions but neither they nor Wasps could topple the Chiefs when it mattered domestically. While the Lions could yet ambush this category they will do well to equal the ceaseless positivity and collective spirit of English rugby’s new market leaders. Robert Kitson

Related: Alex Goode try seals Champions Cup final victory for Saracens over Clermont

Related: Scarlets score six tries to sweep aside Munster and win Pro12 title

Related: Wasps go to Premiership final as Josh Bassett’s late try floors Leicester

Related: World Rugby ‘disappointed’ with Northampton over George North injury

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May 28

Rob Baxter and Exeter’s merry men aim to follow Clough path to European glory

After their thrilling extra-time win against Wasps to win Premiership title, the Chiefs seek to follow the Nottingham Forest side of the late 70s

So much for a mellow bank holiday weekend beside the river Exe. Never before has the West Country played host to a Monday afternoon street parade to salute England’s league champions and the warm and fuzzy feeling from Newlyn to Newton Abbot is equally unprecedented. Even for those locals still crawling back from “the Smoke” or struggling to raise heads off pillows, the thrill will take a lifetime to fade.

Three contrasting post-match snapshots showed what it all meant. Rob Baxter’s genuine fly-in-the-eye emotion on the pitch and the receiving line of supporters waiting to shake the hand of the chairman, Tony Rowe, both summed up the storybook nature of the Chiefs’ crowning achievement but the most telling image was the picture of the entire squad blinking in the Sunday morning light outside Gareth Steenson’s bar-cum-garage, all cheerfully clad as Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

Related: Exeter Chiefs champions after epic win over Wasps completes fairytale rise

Related: Wasps 20-23 Exeter: how the players in the Premiership final rated

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May 27

We want to be best team in Europe, says Exeter chairman Tony Rowe

• Club clinched Premiership trophy with defeat of Wasps
• ‘This success confirms where we are,’ says Rowe

Exeter lifted the Premiership trophy seven years after winning promotion to the top flight and immediately turned their gaze to Europe. Gareth Steenson’s boot took the Chiefs to victory over Bristol in the 2010 Championship play-off final and the club’s long-serving outside-half, who lost his place in the side to Henry Slade at the start of the season, levelled Saturday’s final against Wasps with a penalty 30 seconds from the end and won it with three minutes remaining in extra-time.

“We had a seven-year plan when we came up to become Premiership champions, but with five minutes to go I did not think we were going to do it,” said the Exeter chairman, Tony Rowe. “This success confirms where we are, but my ambition now, and that of Rob Baxter [the head coach] is to become the best in Europe.”

Related: Wasps 20-23 Exeter: Five talking points from the Premiership final | Robert Kitson

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May 27

Wasps 20-23 Exeter: how the players in the Premiership final rated

Geoff Parling was Exeter’s star man while for Wasps Nathan Hughes, Joe Launchbury and Tommy Taylor were unlucky to be on the losing side

Willie Le Roux, full-back, 7/10 Had shown signs of nerves recently but took his first high ball comfortably and did well to stop Woodburn in full flow. The most accomplished of Wasps’ back three on the day.

Related: Exeter Chiefs champions after epic win over Wasps completes fairytale rise

Related: Exeter and Wasps serve up final thriller to show best of English club rugby | Michael Aylwin

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May 27

Wasps 20-23 Exeter: Five talking points from the Premiership final | Robert Kitson

The most gripping Premiership final proved a more accurate reflection of English rugby than any Twickenham international

The Premiership has known some staggering finales but never such a roller-coaster of emotions. Chiefs looked to have taken control when they led 14-3 after just 28 minutes; for Wasps to respond with 17 unanswered points was remarkable. Exeter’s storming response, with Wasps’ having to repel a 34-phase attack at a crucial juncture of the second half, also summed up both sides’ unbelievable resolve and collective spirit. Extra-time, with both sides on their last legs, was almost too tense to watch even before Gareth Steenson’s clinching penalty. A place-kicking contest would have been horrendous.

Related: Exeter and Wasps serve up final thriller to show best of English club rugby | Michael Aylwin

Related: We want to be best rugby team in Europe, says Exeter chairman Tony Rowe

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May 27

Exeter and Wasps serve up final thriller to show best of English club rugby | Michael Aylwin

Some have doubted the Premiership’s need for play-offs but Gareth Steenson’s last-gasp winning kick was a fittingly dramatic end to justify their existence

What a final, they kept saying, and they were right, but these finals always are. Folk have of late noted that we will not need play-offs any more, when they stretch the domestic season to 10 months, smoothing out those crinkly weekends which overlap with the international game.

Yes we will. This is addictive. To be at Twickenham in high May is to see English club rugby at its best, and there is no reason to think it will be any different in high June. This time, as apparently every time, two superb, attack-minded teams cut each other up in their differing ways, Exeter by thumping Wasps through the guts, Wasps by unpicking the Exeter muscle. Twenty-two rounds could scarcely separate the two during the regular season, so 80 minutes had no chance. For the second time in four finals, we had to go to extra-time. Had to? It was a pleasure.

Related: We want to be best rugby team in Europe, says Exeter chairman Tony Rowe

Related: Exeter Chiefs champions after epic win over Wasps completes fairytale rise

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May 27

Wasps 20-23 Exeter – Chiefs crowned Premiership champions – as it happened

Gareth Steenson’s last-gasp extra-time penalty, with just 90 seconds left on the clock, earned Exeter Chiefs a 23-20 victory over Wasps

8.51pm BST

Related: We want to be best team in Europe, says Exeter chairman Tony Rowe

5.18pm BST

So, Exeter Chiefs are champions! There is confetti and champagne, a few selfies and plenty of ecstatic supporters. The Exeter players take it in turns to hold the trophy aloft, before coming together for pictures and other frolics which will surely last long into the night. Then comes a rousing Tomahawk Chop. Thank you very much for joining me for this classic. Have a good evening. Bye!

Related: Exeter Chiefs beat Wasps in Premiership final extra-time tension

5.15pm BST

The party is well underway for Exeter Chiefs, who are about to collect their Premiership winners’ medals. They are slowly gathering on a stage, erected on the Twickenham pitch, ready to lift the glistening trophy stood in front of them. It is anguish for Wasps, who can only look on thinking ‘what if’.

5.11pm BST

Dai Young has his Wasps team in a huge huddle, doubtless praising their efforts as opposed to pinpointing what went wrong. That was helluva game for the neutral, and that is some ending to the season for Chiefs. For Wasps, it is “agony”, says Joe Launchbury.

“We came up short right at the end,” he says. “It is going to hurt a lot but I am sure we can learn from it. We were within a minute of winning the game.”

5.08pm BST

A mammoth effort from all involved, including yourselves. “It is unbelievable, I cannot even put it into words to be honest,” says Gareth Steenson, who looks absolutely absorbed in the occasion. “It is going to be an interesting three or four days down in Devon.

What tension? “I have had the worst week of nerves, if you ask my wife, she has been looking at me like I have two heads,” Steenson says.

5.04pm BST

Exeter’s Rob Baxter is in tears pitchside. Don Armand is full of every emotion too. “We believed in ourselves, we believed we could finish stronger but credit to Wasps because 90 seconds was the difference between winning and losing that game.”

5.02pm BST

Exeter are overjoyed, Wasps are on the floor. Rob Baxter’s side have won this game in extra-time, with a last-gasp penalty. What an ending to this season!

5.01pm BST

Exeter Chiefs are Premiership champions!

We’ve only gone and won it!

5.00pm BST

99 min Exeter are just looking to run the clock down. Whitten is tackled by Cipriani but Nowell collects. Seconds to go at Twickenham …

4.58pm BST

Cool as a cucumber.

4.58pm BST

97 min Mullan pulls down Thomas Francis in the Exeter scrum and he is penalised. Gareth Steenson steps up to convert from 27m out …

4.57pm BST

97 min Penalty to Exeter Chiefs!

4.55pm BST

97 min Exeter Chiefs’ chief executive, Tony Rowe, does not know whether to laugh or cry. He smiles straight down the camera, as the referee resets things for another Exeter scrum.

4.54pm BST

96 min “I can’t see that has been grounded, it’s held up,” JP Doyle is told. Exeter look a little upset in the dugout but there are no big protests. So, we have another scrum 6m or so from the Wasps’ line.

4.51pm BST

96 min JP Doyle goes to the television match official, with Exeter confident they have themselves a try through McIntyre …

4.50pm BST

95 min Exeter rattle through the 21st and 22nd phases, with Waldron pushing his team closer and closer. Johnson and Simpson make two big tackles but Waldron is still in there with the ball.

4.49pm BST

94 min Parling crashes into Johnson, who again rebuffs his advances. Campagnaro is bullied away from moving forwards by Launchbury. Exeter press again with Nowell going around the houses to move 7m away from the Wasps’ line.

4.47pm BST

92 min Yeandle throws in from the line-out, with Waldron collecting in the middle. The players seem to be, understandably, taking more and more time to get back on their feet after each ruck breaks down. Exeter look bright still, though, with Nowell and Woodburn dancing into pockets of space in the Wasps defence.

4.46pm BST

91 min Doyle gets the second period underway. Are we heading to a penalty shootout?

4.45pm BST

A catalogue of errors to close the first 10 minutes of extra time, with the ball eventually bouncing off Daly before JP Doyle blows his whistle.

4.42pm BST

89 min A peach of a kick by Cipriani sees Wasps move downfield, within 6m of Chief’s line, with Launchbury and co coming up for Johnson’s line-out. Chiefs seize upon his low, flat delivery but Wasps just about get away with it. The ball eventually falls to Wade and Le Roux but they make a mess of it.

4.41pm BST

87 min Woodburn appears to still have plenty left in the tank, dodging away from a couple of Wasps challenges before being pulled to the floor. Campagnaro and Nowell link up nicely but Wasps get the line-out. You sense Christian Wade’s pace, if he can dig deep here, could yet prove pivotal.

4.38pm BST

85 min Wasps win a penalty, with Nathan Hughes hurting himself in the process. Chiefs were closing in the 5m line but Hughes’ turnover allows Wasps to end the Exeter siege and kick out of their 22.

4.36pm BST

84 min Exeter have a lineout in a fanciful area down the left flank. Parling gathers it, before Whitten picks it up. He runs into Cipriani before Waldron then has a go himself. Chiefs are enjoying plenty of the ball.

4.34pm BST

83 min Matt Mullan looks as though he could come back on here, with Marty Moore grounded with seemingly a shoulder injury. Both teams have a little more downtime as a result, with Moore sat up receiving treatment on the field.

4.32pm BST

82 min Myell knocks it on, Hughes played him in with something of a hospital pass. There simply is no margin for error here now. Chiefs have a scrum on the halfway.

4.30pm BST

After Cipraini’s kick gets us started, Wasps have an early line-out inside the Chiefs half, with Ashley Johnson doing the honours.

4.30pm BST

The two teams hold a quick and hopefully inspirational huddle. We will have two 10-minute halves. And if that does not separate them, then there will be a kicking competition. Sounds good, right?

4.24pm BST

Well then, we will have another 20 minutes of action at Twickenham to separate these two.

4.23pm BST

That was easy. We are heading towards extra-time …

4.22pm BST

79 min Wasps concede a penalty, with Hughes penalised for dangling those hands into the ruck. It is a head in hands moment for Dai Young. Exeter were 90 seconds away from defeat last Saturday against Saracens …

4.21pm BST

78 min Daly’s boot clears from the scrum. Exeter, relentless, drive forward again. A late, late penalty for Exeter would send this match into extra-time.

4.20pm BST

76 min Chiefs have been hammering at the door but Wasps have no intentions of letting them in. A crucial scrum for Wasps, after Campagnaro loses the ball within seconds of arriving. Phil Blake, the Wasps defensive coach, is ecstatic up in the stands.

4.18pm BST

75 min Slade gets caught by Johnson’s fresh pair of legs at halfway. Woodburn then breaks away, but Simpson, the Wasps scrum-half, gets in the way to block. Another change for the Chiefs, with Campagnaro replacing Devoto. Less than five minutes to go at Twickenham.

4.15pm BST

74 min Nowell gifts the ball away to Hughes at the crucial moment, with Gopperth clattering into the fly-half at the decisive moment. Exeter are not giving up here, with Steenson driving forward from deep but others are beginning to look a little leggy.

4.14pm BST

73 min Wasps come away with the ball, with Guy Thompson snaffling it away from Whitten. That was a heroic bit of defending. Simpson launches a clearing kick, which is gobbled up by Slade before Exeter pour forward once again.

4.12pm BST

72 min And after all that, we have another scrum 5m from the line. Can Wasps shove Exeter out again, as Haskell did superbly then. Plenty of nail-biting to come in the final stages here.

4.11pm BST

71 min The scrum finally comes, but Haskell prevents Waldron from nicking the ball from the scrum. The Chiefs pile forward once more through Parling …

4.10pm BST

69 min A cauldron of noise is rolling around all three tiers of Twickenham, with so much riding on this scrum. JP Doyle orders another.

4.08pm BST

68 min A scrum it is …

4.07pm BST

67 min Exeter are 5m from the line. After 34 phases, Exeter win a penalty. Do they take the simple three points or go to the scrum. There is a degree of inevitability here either way you would think.

4.05pm BST

66 min Exeter bear down on the Wasps 22, with Devoto stepping inside with Whitten providing a helping hand. Steenson then attempts to burst through on the blindside, with Woodburn accelerating to within 10m of the try-line. A spirited route one drive forward ends with another ruck.

4.03pm BST

65 min A couple more personnel changes: Guy Thompson and Ashley Johnson replace Thomas Young and Tommy Taylor.

4.02pm BST

Steenson kicks it over and he closes the gap to three points at Twickenham.

4.01pm BST

62 min Parling loses the ball but Wasps seize on the ball illegally. Their director of rugby, Dai Young, has been chatting about his team’s progress. “We have got ourselves back in front but this game is far from over,” he says. “We seem to have slowed down in the last couple of phases but we need to make Exeter work.”

3.59pm BST

60 min A forward pass by Wasps gifts Exeter Chiefs a scrum at halfway. Meanwhile, Sam Simmonds comes on for Dave Dennis. Chudley is on for Dennis too. Plenty of changes and there could be more: Marty Moore looks in a bit of trouble, but he stays on – for now at least.

3.57pm BST

59 min This game is getting pretty tetchy now. You get the sense that the next score could make or break this one. Both teams look frightened to make the wrong move.

3.55pm BST

58 min Another knock on against Exeter, this time Whitten is the guilty party. The television camera pans to Eddie Jones, who will be back tomorrow at Twickenham for when England host Barbarians.

3.53pm BST

57 min Geoff Parling is caught in two minds and concedes a knock on. Wasps, meanwhile, make a triple-change of their own, with Joe Simpson replacing Robson for his 150th Premiership appearance. Simon McIntyre and Kearnan Myall enter in place of Mullan and Symons.

3.51pm BST

56 min Henry Slade catches but that it is about it, he is yet to really make any impact on this game. It’s one-way traffic at the moment, with Wasps 25 minutes away from another Premiership title.

3.49pm BST

Woodburn crashes into an airborne Gopperth, and the New Zealander converts his kick. Wasps are beginning to grind through the gears a little, and Exeter have frozen since that Daly try at the start of this half. Meanwhile, Horstmann is replaced by Mitch Lees for Exeter.

3.47pm BST

51 min Cipriani gambles, going long to his right but it pays-off, with Wasps finding their rhythm going forward with a beautiful sweeping move. That all came at breakneck speed. Gopperth stays grounded: he looks fatigued by that run and dummy, after good work by Wade to bring Wasps close to the Exeter 22.

3.44pm BST

50 min Front-row movements for Exeter. Ben Moon, Cowan-Dickie and Williams replaced by Yeandle, Rimmer and Francis. All change, all change.

3.43pm BST

49 min Fine interplay between Cipriani, Robson, Wade and Daly. It is the sort of lightning attacking move Exeter will have had nightmares about. Ultimately it comes to nothing but Gopperth seizes back the ball on halfway.

3.42pm BST

48 min Exeter win a penalty but Henry Slade’s kick goes straight out, the wrong side of the flag. A penny for Saracens’ thoughts. Rob Baxter looks anxious up in the gods of Twickenham.

3.40pm BST

46 min On comes Henry Slade in place of Phil Dollman, who leaves the field gingerly. Meanwhile, Wasps are in the groove with Le Roux storming forward but Exeter put in the hard yards to get back at them but they could do with steadying themselves here.

3.38pm BST

45 min Not the start Exeter had in mind. Waldron thunders into the Wasps pack, while Dollman appears to be in trouble, limping around the field.

3.37pm BST

Hughes creates this, making the hit before surging forward, bouncing off a trio of white shirts before Wade chips over the top, the bounce falls kindly for Daly and over the line. Wasps are more than just back in this now. Gopperth, just about, converts too, in off the right post.

3.36pm BST

42 min Horstmann drives into a ruck before Jack Nowell takes over ahead of Townsend. Waldron then has Launchbury and Young for company. Then the ball is moved from the left-to-right, it is all very nice, with Parling attempting to find a route through. Nathan Hughes, though, stops all of that.

3.33pm BST

Exeter kick downfield, but Wasps come straight back at them through Josh Bassett.

3.29pm BST

The second half of action is imminent. Wasps will no doubt want to start this second period as they finished the first. As for Exeter, they will essentially just want more of the same.

3.18pm BST

An exhilarating first 40 or so minutes at Twickenham.

3.18pm BST

An inside break allows Jimmy Gopperth to drive forward and under the posts after a neat spell by Wasps. He converts, too, to send Wasps down the tunnel with a bounce. Cipriani had led another move before eventually running into Ollie Devoto, who has been everywhere so far in this one. Wasps suddenly come alive before the interval.

3.15pm BST

38 min Wasps have a free-kick after Ian Whitten is pulled up for going over the top of the shoulder on Joe Launchbury. Another frenetic break by Wasps in this fast-paced affair. Taylor with the line-out but Wasps get it wrong, allowing Nowell and Townsend to turn it over.

3.13pm BST

36 min Steenson and Elliot Daly interchange kicks before the Wasps centre kicks straight out. The pain on the face of Dai Young, high up in the stands at Twickenham, says it all. Wasps have been extremely wasteful in possession at times.

3.11pm BST

35 min Wasps’ Phil Swainston fails the HIA, with Marty Moore hoping now to play the rest of this relentless match.

3.11pm BST

34 min Nowell goes chasing after the ball is punted forwards by Stu Townsend as Exeter look to break. Bassett has the legs to match him but Wasps, all of sudden, lose 60m. Steenson then pours forwards, as does Woodburn, before Wasps earn a penalty through Bassett.

3.09pm BST

33 min Wasps still have the ball, but they cannot find a way through past Exeter’s white wall …

3.08pm BST

31 min Wasps are little unlucky, with Daly playing a neat kick out to Bassett but it bounces awkwardly and high. It’s a Wasps line-out after Exeter intercept on the verge of the try-line. Hughes, Haskell and Cipriani all look to try and find a response.

3.06pm BST

30 min Wasps have it all to do then. Exeter have been absolutely rampant at times. Once everybody vacates a ruck, Nathan Hughes bursts through again, a one-man band on a mission. He has had a brilliant half an hour in the centre, but Luke Cowan-Dickie – somehow – turns it over before Launchbury gets involved. Wasps earn a scrum.

3.04pm BST

A second HIA of the afternoon, with Moore replacing Swainston for Wasps after a clash with Devoto. From the scrum, Exeter break through Steenson and then Devoto, who sidesteps towards the line. He cannot take it over but Dollman can, who runs off celebrating his first try of this campaign, before Steenson converts. No bother.

3.01pm BST

26 min Exeter’s scrum overwhelms Wasps, with Swainston and co at a loss to prevent another driving line-out. Ben Moon is a real colossus for the Chiefs, and might he just be one of the most under-rated cogs in Rob Baxter’s team?

2.59pm BST

25 min Guy Thompson welcomes Nathan Hughes back on. He looks all ready to go again. Hughes has made eight crashing tackles already in this clash.

2.58pm BST

24 min Wasps are readying Nathan Hughes again on the touchline it seems, assuming he has passed his head assessment. He certainly picked up a few bruises in those opening stages. Meanwhile, Daly tries to wriggle away from the Chiefs defence but he loses the ball in the process, as he is suffocated out by Jack Nowell.

2.56pm BST

22 min “Things like this are a little bit frustrating,” Rob Baxter says, as his Exeter side are penalised from the scrum. Wasps seek a way forward through Launchbury and then Haskell but Parling is there to hound him out. Whitten then dives into to steal the ball away himself. What can they do with the ball?

2.54pm BST

21 min Robson’s pass is intercepted by Harry Williams before Whitten’s movement forward forces Jimmy Gopperth into a knock-on. That looked like nerves to me. Exeter earn a free-kick, while Tommy Taylor is momentarily down with Ali James the Wasps physio.

2.50pm BST

The New Zealander converts after Whitten strayed offside. Meanwhile, Nathan Hughes is off and Thompson comes on to replace him. If that is a permanent move then he’ll be a big loss.

2.49pm BST

16 min Wasps look to hit back, but Cipriani is blocked by Horstmann. Hughes again looks to drive his team on with a huge carry, with Willie Le Roux finding space on the left, Josh Bassett then takes over, with a hint of a forward pass, but he continues before Steenson stops him before the cavalry arrive to snuff out the threat.

2.46pm BST

Exeter get a penalty after Wasps’ collapsed scrum. Exeter’s driving line-out, from Luke Cowan-Dickie looks to cause danger and Jack Nowell runs through a big hole on the inside to skip away from his outside number for the first try of the afternoon. Gareth Steenson kicks to ensure Exeter get their noses in front.

2.44pm BST

10 min Exeter get themselves into a great area, with Woodburn driving into space, fending Yarde but Wasps defensively do well, with Launchbury slowing up the next phase of possession.

2.43pm BST

9 min Possession stats so far read as Exeter 65% and Wasps only 35%. Exeter look to breakthrough via Horstmann but it is that man Nathan Hughes again who makes a huge hit in the middle of the field. Exeter, though, go again, with Woodburn flying forward.

2.41pm BST

8 min Wasps build from a solid scrum, sweeping from right-to-left with Daly, but Josh Bassett cannot quite get hold of the ball after flooding down the left channel.

2.39pm BST

7 min Woodburn looks to Steenson but Hughes turns it over, and suddenly it looks as though they may counter. Cipriani apologises after failing to drive forward with any real incision. Hughes is proving a real nuisance against Steenson – crashing into the fly-half.

2.38pm BST

5 min Wasps have been under the kosh to begin with but Exeter’s scrum is moving so Dai Young’s side win a free-kick themselves. The lineout sees Cowan-Dickie intercept before Woodburn takes it on. Exeter have made a bustling start at Twickenham.

2.36pm BST

4 min The first line-out comes from Luke Cowan-Dickie, with Waldron attempting to breakout but Wasps crowd him out. The first driving lineout results in another once in quick succession. Great work by Wasps, though, with Nathan Hughes rolling in to stop Townsend from digging the ball out.

2.35pm BST

2 min Elliot Daly slips past Steenson’s challenge, and Launchbury almost gets away but the offload results in a scrum. The Exeter scrum really is a thing to behold, but this time the referee penalises Phil Swainston.

2.32pm BST

And JP Doyle blows the whistle to get the 2017 Premiership final underway at Twickenham, with Danny Cipriani kicking downfield from the off.

2.29pm BST

The teams are out on the pitch, bypassing the Premiership trophy as they go. There are pitch-side pyrotechnics and a thumping soundtrack to boot. More than 82,000 fans inside Twickenham are ratcheting up the noise levels. We are just a minute’s silence away from kick-off now.

2.25pm BST

We are just a few minutes away from kick-off. Twickenham is absolutely teeming, with supporters – some drenched in dodgy fancy dress – waving flags, beer cups and more. Who will be celebrating in around a hour and a half’s time?

2.20pm BST

Another splendid occasion for Rob Baxter, the Exeter head coach, who 21 years ago was part of the Chiefs side crowned Division 4 champions. He says his team, unbeaten in 16 Premiership matches, must lean on the experience from their defeat by Saracens last year. “Getting to a final last year was great, and we have got to use that. We probably looked at Saracens a little bit too much last time. The battle is not necessarily trying to stop the opposition but being the best you can.”

2.13pm BST

Danny Cipriani is geeing up the troops on the Twickenham turf. James Haskell too is playing the role of Mr Motivator. In a VT, Haskell says the 29-year-old “has always had the X-Factor about him”. There’s also talk of a trip to Las Vegas years ago, and Cipriani’s antics at a pool party. Back to the rugby now, promise. “It is going to be a good final, a good contest,” says Cipriani.

2.03pm BST

Time for some pre-match chit chat. “We are a team that if we play well, we keep hold of the ball and do not give away too may turnovers,” Wasps’ Elliot Daly says. “We are going to keep to what we do, keep to our structures and if we lose then it will be to a better team on the day.”

As for Exeter, Jack Nowell says: “This is where we want to play and we do want to stay in our shells like we did a bit last year. We pride ourselves on our work-rate.” Flanker Dom Armand adds, “we have been through it once already, it is still quite fresh in our mind from last year”, referencing Saracens’ 28-20 win at Twickenham last May.

2.00pm BST

What a weekend it is – and could be – for the city of Exeter, with Paul Tisdale’s side in London tomorrow too, for their very own showpiece event.

What with Exeter City (@OfficialECFC) at Wembley and @ExeterChiefs at Twickenham every coach in Devon has been chartered. So . . . .

1.50pm BST

So, a few quick-fire stats and facts to get us started then.

All four of Wasps’ past Premiership triumphs (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008) have come after finishing second in the league. This season, they finished first. Exeter have not won at Twickenham in six previous visits. But victory for the Chiefs would equal Leicester’s Premiership record of 17 matches unbeaten. And the man in the middle this afternoon, JP Doyle, the 37-year-old Dubliner, trained to be a secondary school teacher down the road at St Mary’s University.

1.41pm BST

Wasps: Le Roux; Wade, Daly, Gopperth, Bassett; Cipriani, Robson; Mullan, Taylor, Swainston, Launchbury (capt), Symons, Haskell, Young, Hughes

Replacements: Johnson, McIntyre, Moore, Myall, Thompson, Simpson, Leiua, Halai

1.26pm BST

You have been warned. “Never leave early when it comes to our matches,” the Wasps scrum-half, Joe Simpson, said this week before what promises to be a tantalising Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham. A sell-out crowd of more than 82,000 will watch some of the world’s best players do battle. This is the rugby showpiece, the main event, the plat du jour, the pièce de résistance. Got it?

This match-up will see two of the country’s most attack-minded, free-scoring teams come together, with both coming through their respective semi-finals with flying colours – just. Exeter left it stupidly late to bypass Saracens 18-16 at Sandy Park last weekend before Wasps were even more last-minute, with Josh Bassett doing the business in the final seconds against Leicester.

Related: Wasps and Exeter ensure attacking rugby and ambition return to Premiership

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May 27

Exeter Chiefs champions after epic win over Wasps completes fairytale rise

• Wasps 20-23 Exeter (aet; score at 80min 20-20)
• Exeter’s Gareth Steenson stays cool after Wasps fumble their way to defeat

A final between the two most prolific teams in the Premiership was decided by a kick rather than a try. Gareth Steenson’s penalty three minutes from the end of extra time after Wasps, who by then had lost both their tight-head props to injury, had infringed at a scrum for the seventh time settled a full-blooded but scrappy encounter that resulted in Exeter being crowned champions seven years and one day after they won promotion to the Premiership.

Related: Wasps 20-23 Exeter: how the players in the Premiership final rated

Related: Wasps 20-23 Exeter: Five talking points from the Premiership final | Robert Kitson

Related: Exeter and Wasps serve up final thriller to show best of English club rugby | Michael Aylwin

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May 26

Wasps’ Danny Cipriani takes ‘better brain’ into Premiership final | Michael Aylwin

The fly-half has matured and curbed his more rebellious instincts with the club looking for their first Premiership title since 2008 as they face Exeter

It is a common storyline in sport, and it is common in life, legend and literature. The brilliant youth; the effortless, vertiginous rise; the prosaic, enraging restrictions; the exile and fall.

And then – well, it depends on our hero. Icarus fell straight into the sea, but Danny Cipriani came again. As he prepares to step out at Twickenham for Wasps’ first tilt at the Premiership title since the final days of the Lawrence Dallaglio era in 2008, he is better than ever, more measured, more in tune with those around him, more of a fly-half.

Related: Wasps go to Premiership final as Josh Bassett’s late try floors Leicester

Related: Leinster zip past Wasps in Champions Cup as Joey Carbery impresses

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May 26

Exeter Chiefs ready for fairytale finish against Wasps in Premiership final | Robert Kitson

Victory at Twickenham would cap a remarkable rise and bring the south-west its first major national championship

The list of famous Devonians, from Scott of the Antarctic and Sir Walter Raleigh to Agatha Christie and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, is an eclectic one. Until now heroic athletes – apart from sailors and Argyle footballers – have been in shorter supply. Not since the Tavistock-born Sir Francis Drake played bowls on Plymouth Hoe before defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588 have there been many more evocative local sporting yarns than Exeter Chiefs’ buccaneering ride to Twickenham.

It is seven years this week that Exeter made it out of the Championship to the Premiership; there remains a decent Hollywood movie in their ascent from the old tumbledown County Ground to the top of the domestic game. One more push and for the first time in the history of England’s leading professional team sports – whether it be cricket’s county championship, Premier League football or elite rugby – a team from the south-west peninsula will be national champions.

Related: Exeter into Premiership final as Sam Simmonds stuns Saracens with late try

Related: Wasps go to Premiership final as Josh Bassett’s late try floors Leicester

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May 25

Wasps and Exeter ensure attacking rugby and ambition return to Premiership

The final at Twickenham between the two top try-scoring teams in the league this season should show how game has moved away from risk-averse tactics

The Premiership play-off semi-finals were a fitting summary of a league season high on ambition. The finishes at Sandy Park and the Ricoh Arena, two replacements scoring tries to win the match in the closing minutes, were dramatic but even the dullest matches can come alive at the end when someone is chasing a game.

What went before in Exeter and Coventry was as notable as the punchline. It was not that long ago when many Premiership sides were risk averse, kicking in their own half and rarely offloading, but with more clubs now training like Eddie Jones’s England, high on pace and intensity with an emphasis on handling and continuity, matches are being won rather than not lost.

Related: London Irish return to Premiership after thrilling win over Yorkshire Carnegie

Related: England players could face New Zealand in autumn Barbarians game

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May 24

London Irish return to Premiership after thrilling win over Yorkshire Carnegie

• London Irish 55-48 Yorkshire Carnegie (84-66 on aggregate)
• Twelve tries and two red cards as Irish edge breathless contest

London Irish secured an instant return to the Premiership as they beat Yorkshire Carnegie 55-48 in an enthralling encounter at the Madejski Stadium.

Leading 29-18 following last week’s Championship final first-leg win at Headingley, Irish completed the job in style in front of their own fans to banish the memories of last season’s relegation with an 84-66 aggregate victory.

Related: London Irish’s Nick Kennedy: time to seize Championship play-offs moment

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May 22

Rugby players fear serious physical and mental strains of extending season

• Premiership rugby wants to lengthen season by a month
• Rugby Players’ Association warns of detrimental effect on welfare

Premiership players have condemned plans to extend the domestic season to 10 months from 2019-20, saying the move would have serious implications and unnecessarily add to their physical and mental strain.

Premiership Rugby drew up its plan last March after World Rugby announced changes to the global calendar that would mean the domestic season in Europe starts a month later in October and goes on until the end of June rather than May.

Related: Rugby union: Premiership, Champions Cup, Pro12 and Top 14 talking points

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