Category Archive: Premiership Rugby

Premiership Rugby News

Sep 09

Tom Collins shows his promise as Northampton hit back against Leicester

• Northampton 24-11 Leicester
• Luther Burrell and Dylan Hartley join Collins on the scoresheet

We should not really be surprised, but anyone who knew only the Northampton that were torn limb from limb at Twickenham the weekend before would have been. The Saints are now quite used to bouncing back from harrowing experiences such as that, and this they duly did in front of their faithful, against their bitterest. The full catharsis of a bonus-point fourth try eluded them but this was a comprehensive dismantling of Leicester, their first win over the Tigers in eight attempts.

“We had to respond like that,” said Jim Mallinder, Northampton’s director of rugby. “There’s no other way. It’s a reminder for the rest of the season. In this game you’ve got to get that intensity right. Last week we didn’t really do it. This week you could tell from the first minute that we were up for it.”

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/09/northampton-leicester-premiership-match-report

Sep 09

Lightning quick Marlande Yarde steals Gloucester thunder in Harlequins win

• Harlequins 28-17 Gloucester
• Home side claim first win of the season in a stormy encounter

Thunder and lightning above the pitch, and a stormy encounter on it – ultimately settled by Marland Yarde’s try as Harlequins overcame a nasty looking injury to their new South African fly-half, Demetri Catrakilis, to claim a first win of the season.

Catrakilis was taken off on a stretcher after 13 minutes when he was struck by a shoulder to the throat and while he was sitting upright as he departed, whenever injured players receive oxygen as they leave the field it does not look good. His replacement – the 18-year-old Marcus Smith, who was also making his home debut – endured a rocky start but eventually guided his side home, playing a significant role in first-half tries for Dave Ward and Charlie Walker.

Related: Rhys Priestland inspires Bath to an impressive victory over Saracens

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/09/harlequins-gloucester-premiership-match-report

Sep 09

Rhys Priestland inspires Bath to an impressive victory over Saracens

• Bath 31-21 Saracens
• Semesa Rokoduguni scores two late tries for home side

Rhys Priestland squatted in the shadows at Bath for two years as the light danced on George Ford, but one of the more reserved playmakers has emerged unblinking to more than offset the loss of the England fly-half. He set up a victory that initially looked routine only to become remarkable when in the final four minutes Semesa Rokoduguni scored two solo tries.

Few sides find time to breathe when confronted by Saracens’ suffocating defence, but under Priestland’s gentle prompting, Bath regularly worked the ball wide and so discomfited the European champions that by the end of the first half Schalk Brits was remonstrating furiously with the officials after Kahn Fotuali’i milked the hooker for a penalty.

Related: Lightning quick Marlande Yarde steals Gloucester thunder in Harlequins win

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/09/bath-saracens-premiership-match-report

Sep 09

Christian Day insists plan to prolong season threatens player welfare | Robert Kitson

Saints lock and chairman of Professional Rugby Players’ Association criticises lack of consultation and says players will not agree to model put forward by Premiership Rugby

A frame of snooker could be contested on the beautifully mown baize at Franklin’s Gardens but life is less smooth for its resident professional rugby players. Last weekend Northampton were humiliated by Saracens, next up is a ferocious must-win derby against Leicester. The mental and physical demands are already multiplying and it is not yet mid-September.

Imagine operating in this relentless environment right from early September until the end of June with pre-season on top, as Premiership Rugby continues to insist will be the norm from the 2019-20 season. Even in a big-match week players are anxiously scanning the horizon, praying for some sign of sanity. “It starts to get messy when players have to step in and say: ‘This isn’t right,” warns the Saints’ long-serving lock Christian Day. As the chairman of the Professional Rugby Players’ Association, Day is receiving similar feedback from worried pros up and down the country.

Related: Premiership’s brilliant start should not blind us to rugby’s yellow fever

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/09/christian-day-players-concerns-rfu-plans-prolong-season

Sep 08

Jim Mallinder still dreaming despite Northampton’s opening-day drubbing

• Nine-try rout by Saracens led to sleepless nights, says director of rugby
• Saints ring changes for Saturday’s home derby against Leicester

Northampton’s director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, believes his squad can still win the Premiership but has confessed to enduring sleepless nights as he seeks to resurrect Saints as genuine title challengers. He also acknowledges his side cannot afford another limp display against their local rivals Leicesteron Saturday having shipped nine tries in their opener against Saracens.

Under Mallinder, Saints were crowned champions in 2014 but finished seventh last season, losing four of their last five league games, and were hammered 55-24 by Saracens at Twickenham last weekend. Supporters are growing impatient and another defeat to the Tigers, who lost at home to Bath on the opening weekend, would scarcely improve the mood.

Related: Saracens off to flying start as Schalk Brits humiliates Northampton

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/08/northampton-jim-mallinder-dreaming-drubbing-leicester

Sep 08

Michael Rhodes ready for a Saracens start after summer rebuild of collarbone

South Africa-born flanker had been playing with a misdiagnosed injury for four years but will face Bath on Saturday and has already caught the attention of Eddie Jones

Shining brightest among Saracens’ galaxy of stars is no easy task but it was an achievement all the more impressive considering Michael Rhodes was playing out of position for large parts of last season. Add in the fact that he effectively did so with a broken collarbone and it becomes not only a remarkable feat, but also easy to see why Eddie Jones has been in contact.

It was a surprise, therefore, to see Rhodes on the bench rather than starting against Northampton last Saturday. That is until he explains how, in the European Cup final in May, he suffered a recurrence of an injury first sustained four years ago, underwent surgery to remove a piece of hip bone and attach it to the collarbone, spent three-and-a-half months in a sling and began pre-season training just a few days before that match. It then becomes astonishing he was on the bench at all.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/08/michael-rhodes-saracens-collarbone-south-africa-bath-eddie-jones

Sep 07

Premiership’s brilliant start should not blind us to rugby’s yellow fever

The modern first-class player is the cleanest incarnation of the breed and yet by far the most punished by the referee. The sanctification of the airborne player is especially ludicrousRugby is brilliant these days. There are more than a few out there …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/07/the-breakdown-premiership-yellow-cards

Sep 05

Expected early returns for George Kruis and Ben Te’o ease England’s worries

• Key pair look set to come back from injuries sooner than expected
• Saracens also hopeful that more of their Lions contingent will be back

Eddie Jones has been spared an early-season headache with George Kruis and Ben Te’o set to return from injuries suffered on the Premiership’s opening weekend earlier than expected and in good time for England’s autumn internationals.

It had been feared that Kruis would require ankle surgery for the second time in 12 months after he lasted only 15 minutes of Saracens’ thumping win over Northampton at Twickenham. The 27-year-old lock is due to see a specialist later this week but the initial scan suggests he will return in a matter of weeks.

Related: Premiership rugby returns with a bang to trump all other global leagues | Robert Kitson

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/05/george-kruis-ben-teo-injuries-england-selection

Sep 05

Premiership rugby returns with a bang to trump all other global leagues | Robert Kitson

On opening weekend six Premiership games produced no fewer than 50 tries – you wonder if the league has ever been more vibrant

Two decades ago no one knew whether English club rugby was heading to heaven or hell. Professionalism had just arrived and not everyone was optimistic. “There were those who sank to their knees clutching their head and beating their breasts at the woes to come,” reported the 1997-98 Rothmans Rugby Yearbook. “There were also those who rushed out to greet the new dawn with whoops of delight at the promise, excitement and joy on offer.”

In terms of on-field entertainment, if not necessarily economics, the optimists are being vindicated. The latest example came at the weekend when six Premiership games produced no fewer than 50 tries, smashing the previous record of 36 set in 2007. Watching Semesa Rokoduguni, Topsy Ojo, Sean Maitland, Jason Woodward and Dan Robson complete touchdowns to grace any showreel, never mind Channel 5’s first highlights programme, was to doubt whether the league has ever been more vibrant.

Related: Rugby union: talking points from the Premiership’s opening weekend

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/05/premiership-rugby-trumps-all-other-global-leagues

Sep 04

Rugby union: talking points from the Premiership’s opening weekend

Bath’s poor away form could be a thing of the past, Gloucester broke their habit of poor starts as they upset Exeter and London Irish returned in style

Todd Blackadder was in little doubt over where Bath needed to improve this season. Poor away form was not a problem limited to his side last season but there can be little doubting it ultimately cost them a place in the last four. Blackadder believes the issue was mental; that for no reason other than different surroundings his team did not play with the authority they did at The Rec in front of their own supporters. So in pre-season Blackadder took his squad on the road to Cardiff and London Irish to jolt them out of their comfort zone. Judging by their resilience at Welford Road it has worked a treat and, considering he can welcome Sam Underhill, Charlie Ewels and Dave Attwood back to bolster his pack, there is genuine reason for early-season optimism at Bath. Gerard Meagher

Match report: Leicester 23-27 Bath
The Recap: our best coverage straight to your inbox

Related: Premiership 2017-18: team-by-team preview of England’s rugby union season

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/04/rugby-union-talking-points-from-the-premierships-opening-weekend

Sep 03

Schalk Brits to savour final season with Saracens before retirement

• Club persuaded front-row forward to play another year
• Brits played starring role in demolition of Northampton

Schalk Brits, all 36 years of him, looked as if he could carry on doing this well into his 50s. Nevertheless, after a typically mesmerising performance in the Twickenham sunshine, where Saracens thrashed Northampton, he revealed how near he came to retiring at the end of last season.

“I was very close,” he said. “I did accountancy in Stellenbosch and I spoke to Cambridge and Oxford about doing an MBA. The plan was to stop playing professional rugby and play one year of varsity. My wife was not that excited about me going back to be a full-time student, with three little ones, but now I am studying part time.”

Related: Saracens off to flying start as Schalk Brits humiliates Northampton

Related: Premiership 2017-18: team-by-team preview of England’s rugby union season

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/03/schalk-brits-final-season-saracens-retirement

Sep 03

Depleted Bath withstand strong home rally for first win at Leicester since 2003

• Leicester 23-27 Bath
• Visitors win despite having three players sent to sin-bin late in match

Max Clark scored two tries in a first Premiership victory for Bath at Leicester since 2003 – but that does not even begin to tell the story of a breathless final chapter to a remarkable opening weekend of the season. It took a while to get going but in a thrilling finish Leicester rallied to within a position from where they ought to have clinched an unlikely victory against a Bath side with three men in the sin-bin.

Bath were well worth a 24-8 lead with 25 minutes to go after Manu Tuilagi had scored on his first appearance since January but the visitors were left clinging on in the dying moments after two Jonny May tries. Two of their yellow cards were for high tackles – and there were plenty of those – but for all that Leicester finished on the front foot, this was a disappointing defeat for the Tigers.

Related: Dan Robson masterclass helps Wasps to helter-skelter win over Sale

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/03/leicester-bath-premiership-match-report

Sep 02

George Ford denies Bath dip and plans to get Leicester Tigers roaring again

The England fly-half rejects the accusation that he lost his way at Bath as he makes his Leicester return against his former club

George Ford bristles at the idea that he lost his way last season. So much so, it does not require much of a leap to chalk up his recent performances in Argentina as another motivational masterstroke from Eddie Jones.

It was a widely held opinion that Ford’s form had gone off the boil in his final campaign at Bath but it was Jones who questioned it just a couple of weeks before England flew to Argentina. The 24-year-old Ford, installed as vice‑captain, responded by orchestrating a pair of victories that must rank among the Australian’s best at the helm.

Related: Eddie Jones warns George Ford that Toulon move would end England career

Related: George Ford to join Leicester with Freddie Burns going to Bath in his place

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/02/george-ford-leicester-tigers-bath-premiership-england-eddie-jones

Sep 02

Blair Cowan rattles Harlequins to give London Irish a winning return

• London Irish 39-29 Harlequins
• Exiles’ power game seals bonus-point victory against disappointing Quins

It hardly needs saying there are no easy games in the Premiership, but London Irish have given notice that the old saw will have more than a ring of truth to it this season. Not only did they beat Harlequins with a performance of some brutality at the breakdown and just as much wit in the spaces behind, but a bonus-point try at the death gives them the perfect start to their return to the big time. For Quins, another campaign begins in frustrating fashion, never finding their rhythm for more than the odd passage, even if they did score four tries themselves and were denied a second bonus point only by that last Irish try.

Irish caused Quins, who fielded most of their big names, all manner of problems. Blair Cowan is no stranger to the Premiership – or international rugby, for that matter – and he led the way in ferocious fashion, rattling the bones of Quins’ hefty runners, including, on one memorable occasion, those of the mighty Jamie Roberts.

Related: Saracens off to flying start as Schalk Brits humiliates Northampton

Related: Dan Robson masterclass helps Wasps to helter-skelter win over Sale

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/02/london-irish-harlequins-premiership-rugby-match-report

Sep 02

Dan Robson masterclass helps Wasps to helter-skelter win over Sale

• Wasps 50-35 Sale
• Scrum-half helps himself to four tries and tees up a fifth

As responses go, Dan Robson’s could hardly have been more emphatic. Snubbed by England this summer he helped himself to four tries – becoming the second scrum-half in Premiership history to do so – as Wasps outclassed Sale seven tries to five.

Robson was taken off with almost half an hour remaining having scored a first-half hat-trick, teed up Christian Wade and added another of his own after the break. After his departure, two quickfire Sale tries made life uncomfortable for the home side until a late flurry ensured last season’s runners-up opened the new campaign with a half-century. It will not be their last before the season is out.

Related: Saracens start with a bang as Brits’ masterclass humiliates Northampton

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/02/wasps-sale-premiership-rugby-match-report

Sep 02

Saracens off to flying start as Schalk Brits humiliates Northampton

• Saracens 55-24 Northampton
• Sean Maitland scores a hat-trick as Saracens run in seven tries by half time

Clubs are supposed to see the start of a season as a time of new beginnings, regeneration, something different. No one told either of these two. Saracens looked unplayable at times last season, Northampton unable to play. Over the summer it appears they have each taken those respective dynamics and let them run their natural course.

A few bare facts first. Saracens registered their try bonus point – in half an hour – faster than anyone managed last season. They finished the first half with seven tries. They put 40 past the Saints in that period. As for the more emotive stuff, they skipped and thundered in the Twickenham sunshine as if the notion that rugby is a hard ruse to get right were the most preposterous overcomplication of a process as simple and innate as drawing breath.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/02/saracens-northampton-premiership-match-report

Older posts «

» Newer posts