Category Archive: Premiership Rugby

Premiership Rugby News

Jan 08

Bristol have progressed and will upset sides, says Northampton’s Harrison

• Northampton 32 Bristol 26
• Harrison: ‘The way they’ve grown is amazing. The back three is deadly’

To say Bristol should have won this might be stretching it but they would certainly have been worthy of it. A win at Northampton, whatever the form of the home team, was the kind of result all but out of the question for them earlier in the season, when just avoiding a hammering at home was the summit of their ambitions. Yet even a small sequence of wins can have a remarkable effect on a team.

Related: Jason Woodward leads heroics but Bristol fall just short at Northampton

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/08/bristol--northampton-teimana-harrison-premiership-rugby-union

Jan 08

Saracens’ Juan Figallo: draw with Exeter was like win and whole team played part

• Sarries ‘worked together’ for 13-13 draw despite Richard Barrington sending off
• Exeter’s Rob Baxter: I am not sure who the red card suited more

Ten points and one man down after 11 minutes, Saracens were heading for the first home defeat in nine months but the champions are a club unfazed by adversity because of the camaraderie they have generated in the squad. The players went on a three-day bonding session to a skiing resort just before Christmas and their piste de resistance was a stirring comeback against one of their title rivals after Richard Barrington’s 100th appearance for the club ended early when he was sent off for a dangerous tackle.

Related: Saracens survive loss of Richard Barrington to sneak draw against Exeter

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/08/saracens-juan-figallo-draw-exeter-like-win

Jan 08

Dazzling Wasps repel Leicester fightback to go three points clear at top

• Wasps 22-16 Leicester
• Flanker James Haskell suffers head injury 35 seconds after coming on

In many ways this was a glimpse into the promised land of club rugby. A huge, enthralled crowd, a wonderful rollercoaster of a ball game, entertainment for all stylistic tastes and not a contentious high tackle in sight. It is hard to recall a more compelling Premiership advert for winter bladder-chasing even if Leicester, after an unsettling week, will not necessarily share that view on Monday.

For Wasps, though, this was another significant outcome. They are now three points clear at the top of the table, with almost 28,000 witnesses to their ongoing rise since moving to Coventry. Some of their attacking rugby in the first half hour bore comparison with the freewheeling Bath side of the 80s and they could easily have been 30 points up by the interval. It said everything about Leicester’s enduring spirit in the post-Richard Cockerill era that the visitors not only dug in but could conceivably have salvaged the season’s most improbable victory.

Related: Saracens survive loss of Richard Barrington to sneak draw against Exeter

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/08/james-haskell-wasps-leicester-match-report

Jan 07

Mike Williams: ‘We have a chance against Wasps to make Cockers proud’

The Leicester flanker, who moved to England from Zimbabwe with the aim of playing Test rugby, has recovered from a recurring arm injury and hopes to catch Eddie Jones’ eye once again

Leicester will, for the first time this decade, play a match without Richard Cockerill sitting in the stand and becoming increasingly animated when they face Wasps in Coventry on Sunday. It is his spirit – after being fired as the club’s director of rugby this week – the players will invoke as they look to repair an unhappy opening to the new year.

“We have a chance make a statement against Wasps and put in a performance to make Cockers proud,” says Leicester’s Zimbabwe-born flanker, Mike Williams, who was this month named in England’s squad. “He brought me to Leicester [from Worcester] and I became really close to him. It was not nice to hear that he had gone, a pill that was all the more difficult to swallow because in my career I had never come across anyone who was so dedicated to a club or whose mental toughness so inspired you to reach his level. I will certainly keep in touch with him.

Related: The trouble at Leicester: ‘I’d be saying black and Cockers would say white’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/07/mike-williams-leicester-tigers-wasps-england-eddie-jones

Jan 07

Worcester facing relegation fight after Jonny May sparks Gloucester rout

• Gloucester 55-19 Worcester
• Warriors now just one point above bottom club Bristol

The Worcester head coach, Carl Hogg, admitted the Warriors had slumped to an “unacceptable” defeat after they were crushed 55-19 by Gloucester at Kingsholm.

While Gloucester romped to their biggest Premiership win for almost two years, Worcester are now just one point above Bristol – the league’s bottom two clubs meet at Sixways on 5 March – as they were sunk under a seven-try onslaught. And the manner of Worcester’s demise quickly erased memories of a battling victory over Harlequins on new year’s day, as Gloucester moved just two points off the top-six pace.

Related: Jason Woodward leads heroics but Bristol fall just short at Northampton

Related: Harlequins’ Joe Marler becomes latest England forward to suffer injury

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/07/gloucester-worcester-premiership-match-report

Jan 07

Saracens survive loss of Richard Barrington to sneak draw against Exeter

Saracens 13-13 Exeter

The crackdown on dangerous tackles yielded its first Premiership casualty after 11 minutes when the prop Richard Barrington was sent off for knocking out the Exeter second row Geoff Parling with a shoulder charge, but Exeter questioned whether the Saracens captain, Brad Barritt, should have seen red for a high tackle on the same player a second earlier.

The teams second and third in the table at the start of the day met in a repeat of last season’s Premiership final and the visitors, whose last defeat on the road in the Premiership was in September, were the less satisfied in a drawn with three players failing head injury assessments after going to low in the tackle and five in all treated for concussion.

Related: Tim Swiel stars as injury-hit Harlequins rally to overwhelm Sale

Related: Harlequins’ Joe Marler becomes latest England forward to suffer injury

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/07/saracens-exeter-premiership-match-report

Jan 07

Tim Swiel stars as injury-hit Harlequins rally to overwhelm Sale

• Harlequins 29-26 Sale
• Quins edge to victory after losing three props to injury

Harlequins overcame a remarkable flurry of injuries that saw them lose three props – including the England loosehead Joe Marler just before kick-off – to clinch a hugely spirited victory that maintains their 100% home record this season and condemned Sale to a ninth consecutive defeat.

Marler’s late withdrawal with a calf injury is a concern for England, already without Mako Vunipola for the Six Nations, but Quins soldiered on despite losing Owen Evans and Will Collier, as well as the returning fly-half Nick Evans, in the first quarter.

Related: Saracens survive loss of Richard Barrington to sneak draw against Exeter

Related: Jason Woodward leads heroics but Bristol fall just short at Northampton

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/07/harlequins-sale-sharks-premiership-match-report

Jan 07

Jason Woodward leads heroics but Bristol fall just short at Northampton

• Northampton 32-26 Bristol
• Bonus point lifts Saints to fifth, Bristol go within a point of Worcester

Northampton’s upturn continues, this win lifting them to fifth in the table, but if they had deprived Bristol of a bonus point, which they threatened to in the final minutes, it would have been a travesty. It was a compelling encounter, the teams level until the 73rd minute, but it was the visitors who looked the better side for long periods – quite possibly the majority.

“We’ve got belief,” said Mark Tainton, Bristol’s acting head coach, “and with belief comes confidence. When you’ve got confidence you can achieve anything. And we nearly achieved something special this evening.”

Related: Worcester facing relegation fight after Jonny May sparks Gloucester rout

Related: George Ford’s missed kicks prove costly as Newcastle comeback downs Bath

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/07/northampton-bristol-premiership-rugby-match-report

Jan 06

George Ford’s missed kicks prove costly as Newcastle comeback downs Bath

• Newcastle 24-22 Bath
• Ford misses 11 points from the tee as Bath suffer surprise defeat

All the talk beforehand was about this being the first Premiership match since World Rugby’s zero-tolerance clampdown on dangerous tackles came into force as part of its policy to reduce head injuries.

By the end of a tumultuous encounter the only thing on everybody’s lips was a fraught and famous victory for Dean Richards’s dashing men in black.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/06/newcastle-bath-premiership-rugby-match-report

Jan 05

Newcastle host Bath under scrutiny of the new dangerous-tackle law

• Anthony Watson to make first start for Bath since October
• Dean Richards out to prove a point after 58-5 reverse at the Rec

Newcastle face Bath at Kingston Park on Friday night in the first Premiership match since World Rugby’s clampdown on dangerous tackles came into force as part of its policy to reduce head injuries.

There have been two changes to the laws: reckless tackles above the line of the shoulders should be categorised as yellow-card offences at least, while accidental contact with the head could also mean players are shown a card, although the minimum punishment is a penalty.

Related: Leicester board at crossroads as old ways start to look like the wrong ones | Paul Rees

Related: Wales give Leigh Halfpenny deadline over national dual contract offer

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/05/newcastle-bath-rugby-union-premiership-anthony-watson-dean-richards

Jan 05

Leicester board at crossroads as old ways start to look like the wrong ones | Paul Rees

Welford Road club find themselves in Arsenal’s position in the Premier League’s post-Abramovich era, qualifying for Europe while living within their means

“Happy new year to you all,” wrote Richard Cockerill in what turned out to be his final programme notes as Leicester’s director of rugby on Sunday. Less than 24 hours later, the club announced he had been sacked following the defeat by the Premiership club who have become as dominant this decade as the Tigers were in the 2000s, Saracens.

Cockerill became the second director of rugby of a Premiership club to lose his job this season following Andy Robinson’s dismissal by Bristol and five sides are now under different management from last season, as are the relegated London Irish. Leicester could not be accused of acting in haste as they faced up to a prospect of missing out on a trip to Twickenham in May for a fourth consecutive season. But as they showed in 2004 when removing another stalwart who had spent 23 years at Welford Road, Dean Richards, sentiment stretches only so far.

Related: Richard Cockerill ‘sadness’ after being sacked by Leicester Tigers

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/05/the-breakdown-leicester-tigers-crossroads

Jan 02

Leicester Tigers part company with director of rugby Richard Cockerill

• Cockerill has been on coaching staff at Leicester since 2004
• ‘Tigers have made me the person and the coach I am today’

Richard Cockerill has left Leicester Tigers with immediate effect after the club announced the director of rugby has parted company with the Premiership club. The former Leicester and England hooker has been on the coaching staff at the club since 2004, before being appointed as the director of rugby in 2010.

The head coach, Aaron Mauger, will take interim charge of team affairs, working alongside coaches Richard Blaze and Geordan Murphy, while Leicester conduct a review of the coaching structure in place in order to “determine an appropriate way forward”.

Related: Manu Tuilagi suffers new knee injury as Saracens edge past Leicester

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/02/leicester-tigers-part-company-richard-cockerill

Jan 01

Premiership roundup: Tom Varndell in record books as Bristol beat Sale

• Varndell equals Premiership try-scoring record in 24-23 win at Sale
• Harlequins’ dreadful away run continued with a 24-17 defeat at Worcester

Tom Varndell equalled Mark Cueto’s Premiership try-scoring record of 90 as Bristol superbly came from behind to defeat Sale 24-23 at the AJ Bell Stadium. Despite a slow start, Sale hit their straps to take a 15-0 lead through a penalty try and Denny Solomona’s touchdown, while James Mitchell added five points from the tee.

But the visitors managed to reduce the arrears by the interval via Jason Woodward’s three-pointer and Varndell’s converted score. Mitchell’s penalty and Johnny Leota’s converted score looked to have taken the Sharks clear but converted tries from Rhodri Williams and Max Crumpton gave Bristol the win.

Related: Manu Tuilagi suffers new knee injury as Saracens edge past Leicester

Related: Gloucester’s David Halaifonua hands late victory to Northampton

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/01/premiership-roundup-sale-bristol-worcester-harlequins

Jan 01

Gloucester’s David Halaifonua hands late victory to Northampton

• Gloucester 12-13 Northampton
• Saints awarded decisive penalty try with time running out

The new year does not always guarantee a fresh start but Northampton may at least feel that their luck is turning. A match they rarely looked like winning was gifted to them when Gloucester’s David Halaifonua was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on and the Saints awarded a penalty try seven minutes from time.

Stephen Myler could not miss the conversion on his 300th Northampton appearance but for Gloucester, who were leading by six points at the time, it was a bitter pill. Luther Burrell’s pass was heading to the replacement Harry Mallinder who had George North – back from his latest break following a head injury, outside him – but a try was not a certainty as Halaifonua attempted to intercept.

Related: Jack Nowell’s all-round excellence for Exeter outshines Bath’s Rokoduguni

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/01/gloucester-northampton-premiership-match-report

Jan 01

Jack Nowell’s all-round excellence for Exeter outshines Bath’s Rokoduguni

England coach Eddie Jones’ selection of Nowell over Rokoduguni seemed vindicated as the Exeter winger helped his side to a 17-11 win over Bath

There was no shortage of advice for the watching Eddie Jones from the home supporters in the first half as the Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, who has just been left out of the England training camp in Brighton this week, ran rampant.

He scored one try and was denied another by a wing Jones selected ahead of him, Jack Nowell. “It was like Harry Potter had given him his cloak of invisibility,” said the Exeter head coach, Rob Baxter. “We couldn’t lay a hand on him.”

Related: Exeter’s James Short scores two late tries to seal fightback at Bath

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/01/jack-nowell-semesa-rokoduguni-bath-exeter-eddie-jones

Dec 31

Exeter’s James Short scores two late tries to seal fightback at Bath

• Bath 11-17 Exeter
• Exeter score twice in last nine minutes against 14-man Bath

Exeter have, in their seven seasons in the top flight, tended to reserve their worst for Bath, the only Premiership club they had not travelled to and won. For 70 minutes here, they never threatened to erase that blot only to end a year that had seen them achieve two firsts, the knock-out stage of the European Cup and the play-off final at Twickenham, on a high that was all the more elevated because even Nostradamus would not have seen it coming.

Bath were leading 11-0 going into the final quarter, comfortable in their superiority. Exeter were dogged in defence but laboured in attack, unable to create space through passing. Even when Gareth Steenson scored their first points with a 45-metre penalty after Nick Auterac had been ruled to have taken down a scrum, it looked a sure home victory. And then the Chiefs, like some volcano long declared extinct, erupted, sealing their first league victory here with two tries in the last 10 minutes by their replacement wing James Short.

Related: Semesa Rokoduguni: ‘I like working with Eddie. When he’s not happy, he tells you’

Related: Joe Launchbury set to miss the start of Six Nations with calf injury

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/31/bath-exeter-premiership-match-report

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