Last week saw the launch of the 2019-20 Premiership Rugby Shield with the announcement of fixtures for the coming season in the competition for the second tier of English Premiership clubs.
Last year’s competition was a strong one and was well attended and the tournament traditionally provides players sitting just outside of the first team squad with a shop window to show what they are capable of.
Opportunities for coaches
That goes for coaches as well. It has become customary for some of the members of the senior coaching party to take on the role of head coach, thus exposing them to the challenges of the top job without the risk of impacting the club’s main Premiership performance.
Nevertheless, it is also a chance for those first team squad members who are casualties of the rotational systems employed by so many in the top flight these days, ensuring they get access to meaningful and competitive rugby while sitting out of the first team games.
Vital for development
Corin Palmer – head of elite performance and player development at Premiership rugby stated that “the Premiership Rugby Shield is a vital component of our Premiership Rugby season structure and competitive pathway’, adding that it’s a ‘competitive pathway that ensures Academy players get the chance to play alongside senior professionals to prepare them for Gallagher Premiership Rugby.”
Reigning champions, Saracens Storm, kick off the defence of their title with a trip to 2014 champions – Bath United.
Change in pools
There’s been some reorganisation of the pools after Newcastle Falcons were relegated from the Premiership last season, to be replaced by London Irish who kick off their campaign against Bristol Bears A at home.
Irish’s inclusion in the Southern Pool means, Gloucester United move to the Northern group which sees Northampton Wanders and Wasps fight out a local derby in round one.
The Rugby World Cup means that the season starts a lot later than usual this year but it should mean that the teams have had a longer pre-season training camp and should be fully prepared and raring to go come the week of the 25th November.
For a full list of fixtures, click here.
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