Premiership Rugby

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Premiership Rugby
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2021–22 Premiership Rugby
Premiership rugby logo 2018.svg
SportRugby union
Founded1987; 34 years ago (1987)
AdministratorRFU
CEOSimon Massie-Taylor
No. of teams13
CountryEngland
Most recent
champion(s)
Harlequins (2nd title)
(2020–21)
Most titlesLeicester Tigers (10 titles)
TV partner(s)BT Sport
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toRFU Championship[a]
Domestic cup(s)Premiership Rugby Cup
International cup(s)European Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Official websitePremiershipRugby.com

Premiership Rugby (officially known as Gallagher Premiership Rugby, or the Gallagher Premiership for sponsorship reasons)[2] is an English professional rugby union competition. The Premiership consists of thirteen clubs, rising to fourteen in 2022, and is the top division of the English rugby union system. Premiership clubs qualify for Europe's two main club competitions, the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The winner of the second division, the RFU Championship is promoted to the Premiership and until 2020, the team finishing at the bottom of the Premiership each season was relegated to the Championship. The competition is regarded as one of the three top-level professional leagues in the Northern and Western Hemispheres, along with the Top 14 in France, and the cross-border United Rugby Championship for teams from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy and South Africa.

The competition has been played since 1987, and has evolved into the current Premiership system. The current champions are Harlequins. The most recently promoted side are Saracens, who returned to the top flight in 2021.

History[edit]

Beginnings: English domestic rugby union until 1972[edit]

The governing body of rugby union in England, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), long resisted leagues as it was believed that the introduction of leagues would increase 'dirty' play and put pressure on clubs to pay their players (thereby contravening the amateur ethos). Instead, clubs arranged their own fixtures and had traditional games. The only organised tournaments were the County Cups and County Championship – the former played by clubs and the latter by County representative teams. The Daily Telegraph and a few local newspapers – such as the Yorkshire Post – compiled 'pennants' based on teams' performances, but as the strength of fixture lists varied, it was at best an estimate of a team's performance throughout a season.

1972–1995: Leagues and cups[edit]

In 1972 the RFU sanctioned a national knock-out cup – the RFU Club Competition, the predecessor to the Anglo-Welsh Cup – followed first by regional merit tables and then, in the mid-1980s, by national merit tables. One of the casualties of the move to competitive leagues was the loss of some traditional games as the new fixture lists didn't allow time for all of them.

The league system has evolved since its start in 1987 when the Courage Leagues were formed – a league pyramid with roughly 1,000 clubs playing in 108 leagues, each with promotion and relegation.

In the first season, clubs were expected to arrange the fixtures on mutually convenient dates. The clubs involved were Bath, Bristol, Coventry, Gloucester, Harlequins, Leicester, Moseley, Nottingham, Orrell, Sale, Wasps and Waterloo. That first season was an unqualified success, with clubs in the upper echelons of the national leagues reporting increased crowds, interest from both local backers and national companies, and higher skill levels among players exposed to regular competition. The fears that leagues would lead to greater violence on the field proved largely unfounded.

By the next season, the RFU allocated fixed Saturdays to the league season, removing the clubs' responsibility for scheduling matches. There was no home and away structure to the leagues in those early seasons, as sides played one another only once.

Initially two teams, Bath and Leicester, proved to be head and shoulders above the rest in the Courage League, and between them dominated the top of the table.

In 1994 the league structure expanded to include a full rota of home and away matches for the first time. The 1994–95 season was the first to be shown live on Sky Sports, a relationship which continued until the 2013–14 season when BT Sport acquired the exclusive rights.[3]

1996: The dawn of professional rugby union[edit]

The league turned professional for the 1996–97 season when the first winners were Wasps, joining Bath and Leicester as the only champions in the league's first decade. Clubs like Saracens, Newcastle and Northampton were able to attract wealthy benefactors, but the professional era also had its casualties, as clubs like West Hartlepool, Richmond and London Scottish were forced into administration when their backers pulled out.[4]

2000–2002: Premiership, Championship and playoffs[edit]

The start of the 2000–01 season brought with it a re-vamping of the season structure. In 2000–2001 an eight-team playoff (the Championship) was introduced. However, the team finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season was still considered English champions ("Premiership title").

Halfway through the 2001–02 season, with Leicester odds-on to win their fourth title in succession, it was controversially decided that the winners of the eight-team playoff would be crowned English champions.[5] There was an outcry from fans and this proposal was dropped.

2003–2014: The ascendancy of the playoffs[edit]

From the beginning of the 2002–03 season, a new playoff format was introduced to replace the 8-team Championship. The format required the first-placed team in the league to play the winner of a match between the second- and third-placed teams. Critically, the winner of this game (the Premiership Final) would be recognised as English champions. Although Gloucester won the league by a clear margin, they then faced a three-week wait until the final. Having lost their momentum, they were beaten by second-placed Wasps (who had defeated third-placed Northampton) in the play-offs. The playoff structure was reformatted in the 2005–06 season in which the first-placed team would play the fourth placed team in a semi-final (a Shaughnessy playoff).

Since the implementation of the playoff system, only five teams have won both the regular season and playoffs in the same year: Leicester in 2000–01 (the first year of the playoffs), 2008–09 and 2009–10, Sale Sharks in 2005–06, Harlequins in 2011–12, Saracens in 2015–16 and Exeter in 2019–20.

Of all the Premiership teams, Wasps have made a reputation for playing the competition format to perfection, peaking at the right time to be crowned English Champions in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008. Wasps did not lead the league standings at the end of the season in any of these years. Conversely, Gloucester have garnered an unfortunate reputation for leading the table at the end of the regular season, only to fall short of winning the Premiership title, losing finals in 2003, 2007, and 2008. Gloucester's single victory in the playoffs, in 2002, occurred when league leaders Leicester were still considered English champions, meaning Gloucester's Championship victory was considered secondary.

The 2011–12 season saw Harlequins add their name to the trophy on their first attempt, winning 30–23 against the nine-times champions Leicester. Leicester would have to wait until 2012–13 for their 10th championship, where they defeated Northampton in the final.

The 2013–14 Aviva Premiership season saw Northampton become the 8th different team to win the trophy. This was achieved when they defeated Leicester Tigers in the semi-final 21–20, thus denying Leicester a 10th Consecutive Final.[6] In the final, they defeated Saracens 20–24 with a try in the last minute of extra time to win the 2013–14 Aviva Premiership.[7][8]

2014–2018: US initiatives[edit]

With the future of the Heineken Cup uncertain beyond 2013–14, due to a row between England's Premiership Rugby Limited and France's LNR on one side and the sport's governing bodies on the other, Premiership Rugby Limited explored several moves toward expanding its brand into the United States. In May 2013, Premiership Rugby Limited and U.S.-based RugbyLaw entered into a plan by which the two organisations were to help back a proposed U.S. professional league that could have begun play as early as 2014.[9] The first phase of the plan was to involve two preseason exhibitions featuring an "American Barbarians" side that would combine international veterans and young American talent. The "Barbarians" were intended to play matches in August 2013 in the U.S. and London, but those plans fell through, and the matches were indefinitely delayed.[10]

In August 2013, Leicester Tigers chairman Peter Tom confirmed that Premiership Rugby Limited had discussed the possibility of bringing select Premiership matches to the US.[9][11] The first match played in the USA was on 12 March 2016 when London Irish were defeated by Saracens at the Red Bull Arena in the New York Metropolitan Area.[12] This match was intended to be the first of a three-year deal which would have seen London Irish play one home match each season in the US, but their relegation from the Premiership at the end of the 2015–16 season scuttled that plan.[13] A new deal was reached with American sports marketing company AEG in 2017 which was intended to see at least one Premiership match taken to the US for four seasons starting in 2017–18. The first match under the new deal was held on 16 September 2017, with Newcastle Falcons taking their home fixture against Saracens to the Talen Energy Stadium in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester, Pennsylvania.[13] In 2018–19, although no match was scheduled to take place in the US, the round 6 match between Saracens and Harlequins was the first broadcast on network television in the US of a Premiership Rugby game. The game was shown live on NBC. In 2019–20, and 2020–21 once again no matches were scheduled to take place in the US.

2018 also saw a revamp of the league's secondary competition with the launch of the Premiership Rugby Shield.

2018–19: CVC Capital Partners investment[edit]

In December 2018 it was announced that the Luxembourg based investment advisory firm CVC Capital Partners had bought a 27% stake in Premiership Rugby in a deal worth £200m.[14] A previous offer to purchase a 51% majority share was rejected.[15] The money from the investment was planned to be used to improve facilities at clubs and grow the game globally.[16]

2019–20: Salary Cap investigation into Saracens[edit]

In March 2019, allegations emerged that Saracens may have broken the league's salary cap. In June, Premiership Rugby announced that they would investigate the allegations.[17] In November 2019, Saracens were found to have been in breach of the salary cap regulations due to failure to disclose player payments in the 2016–17, 2017–18 and 2018–19 seasons, which would have taken them over the senior player cap.[18] They were handed a 35-point deduction for the 2019–20 season and fined £5.3 million.[19][18] The judgement found that Saracens had been reckless in entering into the arrangements with players without disclosing them to Premiership Rugby.[20]

On 18 January 2020, Premiership Rugby announced that Saracens would be relegated to the RFU Championship for the 2020–21 season.[21] Premiership Rugby CEO Darren Childs said this punishment was due to Saracens lack of cooperation in a mid-season audit to prove compliance in the 2019–20 season.[22][23]

On 23 January 2020, Lord Dyson's full report into Saracens' spending was published, it revealed that Saracens had overspent the salary cap by £1.1m in 2016–17, £98,000 in 2017-18 and £906,000 in 2018–19. These included £923,947.63 of property investments between Nigel Wray and three unnamed Saracens players. It also included Saracens claim that the Salary Cap was unenforceable under competition law, this defence was rejected.[24] On 28 January 2020, Premiership Rugby applied a further 70 point deduction for the 2019–20 season to ensure Saracens would finish bottom of the league table.[25]

2020–2024: Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and expansion of the league.[edit]

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted all elite sports in England in spring 2020. The RFU initially suspended both the Premiership and Championship before eventually cancelling the Championship season.[26] Newcastle Falcons, who topped the Championship table at the time of the season's premature end were promoted based on their playing record and would replace Saracens in the Premiership the following season.[27]

The 2019–20 Premiership Rugby season recommenced on 14 August and the final was held 24 October 2020.[28]

The disruption of the 2019–20 season meant the 2020–21 season commenced 10 weeks late on 20 November 2020 and ran over a reduced timeframe of 32 weeks (down from 42).[29]

The financial impact of the pandemic also caused the salary cap to be temporarily reduced for a maximum of 3 seasons from the 2021–22 season.[30]

A moratorium on relegation was also approved in February 2021, meaning no teams would be relegated as a potential consequence of another team receiving more points due to games cancelled because of COVID-19. With this news it was also confirmed that the league's minimum standards criteria for promotion would be reviewed as would league structure from 2021–22.[31] The new structure extends the moratorium on relegation for a further two-years and is expanded to includes promotion into the league for the 2023–24 season. A playoff between the top team in the Championship and the bottom team in the Premiership is also introduced in the 2023–24 season.[32]

Clubs[edit]

Current clubs[edit]

Greater London Premiership Rugby clubs
Club Established City Stadium Capacity* Titles (Last)**
Bath 1865 Bath The Recreation Ground 14,509 6 (1996)
Bristol Bears 1888 Bristol Ashton Gate 27,000 – (N/A)
Exeter Chiefs 1871 Exeter Sandy Park 13,593 2 (2020)
Gloucester 1873 Gloucester Kingsholm Stadium 16,115 – (N/A)
Harlequins 1866 London (Twickenham) Twickenham Stoop 14,800 2 (2021)
Leicester Tigers 1880 Leicester Mattioli Woods Welford Road 26,849 10 (2013)
London Irish 1898 London (Brentford) Brentford Community Stadium 18,250 – (N/A)
Newcastle Falcons 1877 Newcastle-upon-Tyne Kingston Park 10,200 1 (1998)
Northampton Saints 1880 Northampton cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens 15,200 1 (2014)
Sale Sharks 1861 Salford AJ Bell Stadium 12,000 1 (2006)
Saracens 1876 London (Hendon) StoneX Stadium 8,500 5 (2019)
Wasps 1867 Coventry Coventry Building Society Arena 32,753 6 (2008)
Worcester Warriors 1871 Worcester Sixways Stadium 11,499 – (N/A)
  • Note: Capacity listed for rugby union games may differ from official stadium capacity

All time[edit]

A total of 28 clubs have been involved in the top-flight since the league's inception in the 1987–88 season. The most recent club to make its debut in the Premiership was London Welsh, which made their top flight debut in 2012–13.

Four clubs—Bath, Gloucester, Leicester Tigers and Wasps—have appeared in every season to date. Harlequins have only missed the 2005–06 season. Six other clubs have appeared in at least 20 seasons: Saracens, Northampton, Sale, London Irish, Bristol and Newcastle.

Coventry, Liverpool St Helens, Moseley, Nottingham, Rosslyn Park, Rugby and Waterloo only appeared during the amateur era, whereas Exeter Chiefs, Leeds, London Welsh, Richmond, Rotherham and Worcester have only appeared during the professional era.

Below, the 2021–22 clubs are listed in bold; ever-present clubs are listed in bold italics. Years listed are the calendar years in which the seasons ended. All current teams will remain in the league until at least 2023.

Seasons Team Dates
36 Bath 1988–2023
25 Bristol 1988–1998, 2000–2003, 2006–2009, 2017, 2019–2023
3 Bedford 1990, 1999–2000
1 Coventry 1988
13 Exeter 2011–2023
36 Gloucester 1988–2023
35 Harlequins 1988–2005, 2007–2023
8 Leeds 2002–2006, 2008, 2010–2011
36 Leicester 1988–2023
2 Liverpool St Helens 1989, 1991
28 London Irish 1992–1994, 1997–2016, 2018, 2020–2023
2 London Scottish 1993, 1999
2 London Welsh 2013, 2015
4 Moseley 1988–1992
24 Newcastle 1994, 1998–2012, 2014–2019, 2021–2023
31 Northampton 1991–1995, 1997–2007, 2009–2023
5 Nottingham 1988–1992
10 Orrell 1988–1997
2 Richmond 1998–1999
4 Rosslyn Park 1989–1992
2 Rotherham 2001, 2004
2 Rugby 1992–1993
30 Sale 1988, 1995–2023
31 Saracens 1990–1993, 1996–2020, 2022–2023
36 Wasps 1988–2023
2 Waterloo 1988–1989
5 West Hartlepool 1993, 1995–1997, 1999
17 Worcester 2005–2010, 2012–2014, 2016–2023

Sponsorship[edit]

Period Sponsor Name League Title
1987–1997 Courage Brewery Courage League National Division One National Division One
1997–2000 Allied Dunbar Allied Dunbar Premiership Premiership 1
2000–2005 Zurich Insurance Group Zurich Premiership Premiership
2005–2010 Guinness Guinness Premiership
2010–2018 Aviva Aviva Premiership
2018–current Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Gallagher Premiership

Structure[edit]

Referees[edit]

Referees in the Premiership are selected from the RFU's Professional Referee Unit. The Professional Referee Unit consists of 15 referees with match appointments decided by PRU management team of ex-international referees Ed Morrison, Brian Campsall and Tony Spreadbury.[33]

List of Premiership Referees

Source:[33]

They are supported by a large team of assistant referees.

League Season[edit]

The Premiership Rugby league season typically runs from September to June and comprises 26 rounds of matches, with each club playing each other home and away. Each team will receive two bye weeks. The results of the matches contribute points to the league as follows:

  • 4 points are awarded for a win
  • 2 points are awarded for a draw
  • 0 points are awarded for a loss, however
    • 1 losing (bonus) point is awarded to a team that loses a match by 7 points or fewer
    • 1 additional (bonus) point is awarded to a team scoring 4 tries or more in a match

Play offs[edit]

Following the completion of the regular season, the top 4 teams enter the play offs, which are held in June. The top two teams receive home advantage, the league leaders hosting the 4th ranked team, and the 2nd place team hosting the 3rd place team. The winners of these semi-finals progress to the final, held at Twickenham Stadium, with the winner of the final being crowned champions.

Promotion and Relegation[edit]

Previously there was a system of promotion and relegation between the Premiership and the RFU Championship whereby one club was relegated from the league and one club was promoted into it.[34] Currently the last placed club after the league season remains in the league and the winner of the Championship is promoted to the Premiership for the subsequent season.

Promotion from the Championship (regardless of the format used) is subject to Minimum Standards Criteria. If the team scheduled for promotion does not meet these standards, then there is no promotion. In the 2011–12 season London Welsh won promotion from the Championship. They were initially denied promotion under the criteria, reprieving Newcastle Falcons from relegation, but successfully appealed against their block and achieved promotion.[35]

In February 2021 a moratorium was approved on relegation from the league for that season. Promotion from the Championship would still take place meaning the league expanded to 13 teams from 2021–22.[31] The moratorium was extended by an additional two seasons in June 2021. This means the Premiership may expand again to 14 teams from 2022–23. The new regulations also introduce a moratorium on promotion from the Championship in the same season and introduce a play-off between the bottom placed Premiership Club and top placed Championship club in 2023–24.[32]

European competition qualification[edit]

The top seven teams qualify for the following season's European Rugby Champions Cup. The eighth champions cup place is awarded to either the winner of the Challenge Cup or the team placed 8th. Teams placed 8-12th that do not qualify for the Champions Cup play in the Challenge Cup.

Champions[edit]

Between 1987 and 2002, the team at the top of the league was crowned English champions. Since 2002–03, the winner of the league has been determined by a Premiership Final, which takes place at Twickenham and consists of two rounds of knock-out play amongst the top four teams. In most seasons, at least one team has been relegated at the end of the season, although in 1995–96, there was no relegation to allow division expansion, and in 2001–02, Leeds were given a reprieve because the Division One champions did not have a suitable ground to allow promotion. Relegation was also suspended between 2020–21 and 2022–23 to allow further expansion.

Season Champions Final Runners-up Relegated
1987–88 Leicester N/A Wasps Sale, Coventry
1988–89 Bath Gloucester Liverpool St Helens, Waterloo
1989–90 Wasps Gloucester Bedford
1990–91 Bath Wasps Liverpool St Helens, Moseley
1991–92 Bath Orrell Rosslyn Park, Nottingham
1992–93 Bath Gloucester Rugby Lions, West Hartlepool,
Saracens, London Scottish
1993–94 Bath Leicester Newcastle Gosforth, London Irish
1994–95 Leicester Bath Northampton
1995–96 Bath Leicester No relegation
1996–97 Wasps Bath Orrell, West Hartlepool
1997–98 Newcastle Saracens Bristol
1998–99 Leicester Northampton West Hartlepool
1999–00 Leicester Bath Bedford
2000–01 Leicester Wasps Rotherham
2001–02 Leicester Sale No relegation
No team promoted
2002–03 Wasps 39 – 3 Gloucester Bristol
2003–04 Wasps 10 – 6 Bath Rotherham
2004–05 Wasps 39 – 14 Leicester Harlequins
2005–06 Sale 45 – 20 Leicester Leeds
2006–07 Leicester 44 – 16 Gloucester Northampton
2007–08 Wasps 26 – 16 Leicester Leeds
2008–09 Leicester 10 – 9 London Irish Bristol
2009–10 Leicester 33 – 27 Saracens Worcester
2010–11 Saracens 22 – 18 Leicester Leeds
2011–12 Harlequins 30 – 23 Leicester Newcastle
2012–13 Leicester 37 – 17 Northampton London Welsh
2013–14 Northampton 24 – 20
(a.e.t.)
Saracens Worcester
2014–15 Saracens 28 – 16 Bath London Welsh
2015–16 Saracens 28 – 20 Exeter London Irish
2016–17 Exeter 23 – 20
(a.e.t.)
Wasps Bristol
2017–18 Saracens 27 – 10 Exeter London Irish
2018–19 Saracens 37 – 34 Exeter Newcastle
2019–20 Exeter 19 – 13 Wasps Saracens
2020–21 Harlequins 40 – 38 Exeter No relegation
2021–22 No relegation

Summary of winners and runners-up[edit]

# Team Wins Years won Runners-up Years runners-up Topped league standings
1 Leicester Tigers 10 1987–88, 1994–95, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2012–13 7 1993–94, 1995–96, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2010–11, 2011–12 10
2 Bath 6 1988–89, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96 5 1994–95, 1996–97, 1999–00, 2003–04, 2014–15 7
Wasps 1989–90, 1996–97, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2007–08 1987–88, 1990–91, 2000–01, 2016–17, 2019–20 3
4 Saracens 5* 2010–11, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19* 3 1997–98, 2009–10, 2013–14 3
5 Exeter Chiefs 2 2016–17, 2019–20 4 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19, 2020–21 3
Harlequins 2011–12, 2020–21 0 N/A 1
7 Northampton Saints 1 2013–14 2 1998–99, 2012–13 1
Sale Sharks 2005–06 1 2001–02
Newcastle Falcons 1997–98 0 N/A
10 Gloucester 0 N/A 5 1988–89, 1989–90, 1992–93, 2002–03, 2006–07 3
London Irish 1 2008–09 0
Orrell 1991–92
Bristol Bears 0 N/A 1

Player records[edit]

All records relate to the 1997–98 season onward when National League One was re-launched as the Premiership.

Source:[36]

As of 27 June 2021. Bold italics denote players active in the 2021–22 Premiership.

Appearances[edit]

Rank Player Club(s) Years Apps
1 England Richard Wigglesworth Sale, Saracens, Leicester 2002– 304
2 England Steve Borthwick Bath, Saracens 1998–2014 265
3 England George Chuter Saracens, Leicester 1997–2014 262
England Phil Dowson Newcastle, Northampton, Worcester 2001–2017
5 England Charlie Hodgson Sale, Saracens 2000–2016 254
6 England Tom May Newcastle, Northampton, London Welsh 1999–2015 247
7 England Mike Brown Harlequins, Newcastle 2005– 246
8 England Hugh Vyvyan Newcastle, Saracens 1998–2012 245
9 England Simon Shaw Bristol, Wasps 1997–2011 237
10 England Andy Goode Leicester, Saracens, Worcester, Wasps, Newcastle 1998–2016 236

Points[edit]

Rank Player Club(s) Years Points
1 England Charlie Hodgson Sale, Saracens 2000–2016 2,625
2 England Andy Goode Leicester, Saracens, Worcester, Wasps, Newcastle 1998–2016 2,285
3 England Stephen Myler Northampton, London Irish 2006–2020 1,778
4 New Zealand Nick Evans Harlequins 2008–2017 1,656
5 Ireland Gareth Steenson Exeter 2010–2020 1,651
6 England Olly Barkley Bath, Gloucester, London Welsh 2001–2015 1,605
7 New Zealand Jimmy Gopperth Newcastle Falcons, Wasps 2009– 1,566
8 England George Ford Leicester, Bath 2009– 1,507
9 England Jonny Wilkinson Newcastle 1997–2008 1,489
10 England Owen Farrell Saracens 2010– 1,423

Tries[edit]

Rank Player Club(s) Years Tries
1 England Tom Varndell Leicester, Wasps, Bristol 2004–2017 92
2 England Mark Cueto Sale 2001–2015 90
3 England Chris Ashton Northampton, Saracens, Sale, Harlequins, Worcester 2008– 89
4 England Christian Wade Wasps 2011–2018 82
5 England Steve Hanley Sale 1998–2007 75
6 England Danny Care Leeds, Harlequins 2005– 75
7 England Matt Banahan Bath, Gloucester 2007–2021 71
8 England Paul Sackey Bedford, London Irish, Wasps, Harlequins 1999–2014 69
England Jonny May Gloucester, Leicester 2010–
10 England Tom Voyce Bath, Wasps, Gloucester, London Welsh 2000–2013 66

Attendances[edit]

Season Total Average
2002–03 1,183,972 8,518
2003–04 1,241,557 9,062
2004–05 1,481,355 10,813
2005–06 1,483,920 10,922
2006–07 1,598,734 11,842
2007–08 1,517,863 11,243
2008–09 1,671,781 12,384
2009–10 1,900,177 14,075
2010–11 1,740,751 12,894
2011–12 1,755,073 13,001
2012–13 1,684,804 12,480
2013–14 1,721,729 12,754
2014–15 1,804,914 13,370
2015–16 1,837,427 13,611
2016–17 2,033,805 15,065
2017–18 1,912,301 14,165
2018–19 1,958,402 14,507

Salary cap[edit]

The English Premiership operates a salary cap,[37] set by the Premiership Rugby Board, specifying the money a club can spend on the player salaries of its squad per season. Until the 2024–25 season, the base cap is £5 million, with an "academy credit" of up to £600,000 (£100,000 per player for up to six players).

A club may use the academy credit on a player that: (i) joined the club before his 18th birthday; (ii) is under age 24 at the start of the season; and (iii) earns a salary of more than £50,000. Under the credit scheme, the first £100,000 of a qualifying player's salary is not counted against the cap.

Exclusions[edit]

Since the 2015–16 season, each club has been allowed to exclude two players from the cap calculations, an increase from one in prior seasons.

The first "excluded player" slot can be filled by any player on a team's current roster who meets any of the following criteria:

  • Played with his Premiership club for at least two full seasons before he was nominated as an excluded player.
  • Played with his Premiership club for the full season before being nominated as an excluded player, after having played outside the Premiership.
  • Played outside the Premiership in the season before he was nominated.

The second slot can only be filled by a player who had been outside the Premiership for at least one full season before signing his initial contract with his current Premiership club. For purposes of the exclusion rule, "initial contract" means the first contract signed for the 2015–16 season or later, meaning that a player who returned to a prior Premiership club after spending at least one full season outside the Premiership can qualify for the second slot.

Media coverage[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the rights are currently held by BT Sport under a new deal signed on 18 December 2020 replacing former deals signed on 16 March 2015 and 12 September 2012.[38][39] The new deal sees BT broadcast up to 80 live matches per season from both Premiership Rugby and the Premiership Rugby Cup until the end of the 2023–24 season along with extended highlights of all matches and midweek programming.[40] UK rights were also held by Channel 5 who simulcast 5 matches live on a free-to-air basis, with a different commentary team as opposed to BT's commentary team, and also showed a weekly highlights programme until the end of the 2020–21 season.[41] In Australia the Premiership is available on beIN Sports. In the United States, the Premiership is available on NBC Sports since spring 2016. It has also been broadcast in China since 2017.

Talksport and BBC Radio 5 Live, along with various BBC Local Radio stations broadcast commentary and magazine programming.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RFU Council Vote in Favour of COVID Recovery Plan". www.englandrugby.com. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Gallagher Premiership Rugby to kick off on 31 August 2018" (Press release). Premiership Rugby. 12 April 2018. Archived from the original on 30 May 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Partners | Sky Sports". Premiership Rugby. 28 June 2012. Archived from the original on 27 April 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Club History". London Scottish FC. 13 April 2013. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Leicester livid as seasons spoils are left up for grabs". The Independent. 10 February 2001. Archived from the original on 23 January 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  6. ^ "Premiership semi-final: Northampton 21–20 Leicester". BBC Sport. 16 May 2014. Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Premiership final: Saracens 20–24 Northampton Saints". BBC Sport. 31 May 2014. Archived from the original on 2 June 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Aviva Premiership Final: Saracens 20 Northampton Saints 24". Premiership Rugby. 31 May 2014. Archived from the original on 3 June 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  9. ^ a b Dart, Tom (11 May 2013). "NFL joins plan aiming to create professional rugby union league in US". theguardian.com. Guardian Media. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  10. ^ Dart, Tom (5 June 2013). "US professional rugby union project delayed to 2014". theguardian.com. Guardian Media. Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  11. ^ "America to host Aviva Premiership matches?". ESPN Scrum. 4 August 2013. Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  12. ^ "London Irish to play Saracens in New York Premiership match". BBC Sport. 27 October 2015. Archived from the original on 28 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  13. ^ a b Pengelly, Martin (17 May 2017). "Saracens to face Newcastle in Philadelphia under four-year US deal". Theguardian.com. Archived from the original on 21 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Premiership Rugby: Minority shareholding sold to CVC Capital Partners for £200m". BBC Sport. 19 December 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  15. ^ "Premiership clubs against majority deal". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  16. ^ "Premiership Rugby confirm new partnership with CVC Capital Partners". Premiership Rugby. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ There is a moratorium on this until the 2023–24 season.[1]

External links[edit]