McCafferty hails intense Premiership
January 5, 2009
Premier Rugby chief Mark McCafferty has hailed this season's Premiership as the closest yet © Getty Images
Following another round of hard-fought action, Guinness Premiership clubs are embroiled in the closest competition in history.
With only 13 points separating London Irish in first and Saracens in seventh, and Wasps potentially on the verge of one of their late surges for the playoffs, there can be no room for complacency amongst those hoping to make it to the end-of-season final at Twickenham.
"At the half way point of the season we seem set for one of the closest Premierships ever," said Premier Rugby chief Mark McCafferty. "We have already had five league leaders since September, more than we have had in any complete season since 1999/00."
At this stage last season Gloucester led the way, while eventual champions Wasps were languishing in eight, the same position that they occupy currently. The top end of the table sees up to eight teams going for the coveted playoff spots, including this season's surprise package London Irish and perennial challengers Leicester and Gloucester.
At the other end, Bristol and Newcastle look set to play out a fierce relegation battle, with Bristol currently bottom on nine points.
"Just yesterday we saw a fantastic match at Welford Road where Leicester Tigers were 13 points down with just 25 minutes to go and managed to beat their great rivals Bath," said McCafferty. "The week before, Harlequins scored in the last minute to draw their 'Big Game' with Leicester in the final minute and Bath won their match with Tigers in November thanks to another last minute try at the Recreation Ground.
"We have spent a lot of time over the past few seasons trying to make the Guinness Premiership the most competitive league in world rugby as we believe that is what makes it attractive to supporters, sponsors and broadcasters."
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September