Premiership Rugby Season Structure a “fresh challenge” for Rob Baxter

Premiership Rugby Season Structure a “fresh challenge” for Rob Baxter
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: The 12 Director of Rugby for the Gallagher Premiership Rugby sides pose for a photo. From Left to Right: Top - Paul Gustard of Harlequins, Alan Solomons of Worcester Warriors, Steve Diamond of Sale Sharks, Chris Boyd of Northampton Saints, Mark McCall of Saracens, Geordan Murphy of Leicester Tigers and Rob Baxter of Exeter Chiefs. Front - Pat Lam of Bristol Bears, Dai Young of Wasps, Johan Ackermann of Gloucester Rugby, Stuart Hooper of Bath Rugby and Declan Kidney of London Irish poses for a portrait during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 2019-20 Season Launch at Twickenham Stadium on September 11, 2019 in London, England. The Gallagher Premiership Rugby 2019-20 season kicks off on Friday the 18th of October with Bristol Bears hosting Bath Rugby. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images for Premiership Rugby)

With all eyes on the World Cup, the beginning of the domestic season has gone somewhat unnoticed. However, the Premiership Rugby Season Structure has been a hot topic for fans, players and coaches alike.

The World Cup forced the start of the season to be pushed back to accommodate the disruption. It then began with four rounds of Premiership Rugby Cup action before the Premiership starts on the 18th October.

This has had the knock-on effect of pushing the end of the season further back. This meant that the Premiership Final will be on the 20th June. Which is one of the latest dates it has ever been held.

Critiqued When Initially Proposed

Many criticised the Premiership Rugby Season Structure when it was announced. With more and more spotlight on player welfare, the prospect of a longer season caused problems.

Others have also pointed out that using the Premiership Rugby Cup as a quasi-preseason is counterproductive. Teams have fielded teams that differ vastly in terms of quality and experience leading some to conclude that there is no much in it for players, coaches or fans.

Having competitive games pre-season is also a questionable element to Premiership Rugby Season Structure. Throwing players into a fully competitive environment as their first run-out is counter-intuitive to most. Some have even described the structure as dangerous.

Sam Simmonds noted the slight paradox at play in these games when he said that “they are competitive games but they are first run-outs of the season”.

Baxter – Premiership Rugby Season Structure “a nice change”

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However, Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter does not share this negative view. Overall he is full of praise for the Premiership Rugby Season Structure.

Firstly he tried to dispel the myth that this is the longest season in history. The season does have a latter start and finish date. However Baxter was quick to point out that “the season in terms of the number of games is shorter”. This is because teams have not had to organise their own pre-season friendlies. Instead they can use the Premiership Rugby Cup as the time to give their players game time.

In addition, Baxter commented that the structure has;

“avoided the need to stack extra games into a season that’s already pretty busy”

Baxter also noted thought that “it’s a bit surprising how people seem to be viewing this”. Overall he saw the changes as “not a bad thing” also pointing out that it has been “well-organised” with “good referees”.

The Premiership Rugby Season Structure has also provided teams with the ability to plan their seasons’ more effectively. As all teams know their fate in the Premiership Rugby Cup after the first block of games they can plan for the two-week block in January which is not normally the case. Baxter commented that “we’ll actually be able to plan in for the rest of the season”.

“in the future, it would be something we should look at further”

Baxter is more than happy with the current Premiership Rugby Season Structure. Therefore it is in fact fairly easy to conclude with the Exeter Director of Rugby and say that “all around it has been some decent management of the season”.

“Main Photo Credits”
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