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How the 'ruthless' Premiership is punching far above its weight

By Chris Jones
Marcus Smith of Harlequins gives comfort to Maxime Lucu of UBB after their victory after the Investec Champions Cup Quarter Final match between Union Bordeaux Begles and Harlequins at Stade Chaban-Delmas on April 13, 2024 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

Gloucester boss George Skivington believes the success of Premiership clubs in the Investec Champions Cup and the European Challenge Cup proves the league is more “ruthless” than people realise.

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The Premiership sides cannot compete against the big-spending French clubs, while the Irish provinces have the ability to bring in world-class players with Leinster signing Jordie Barrett, the All Black star, to highlight their buying power having also taken RG Snyman, the World Cup-winning Springbok lock, from arch-rivals Munster.

However, Northampton Saints and Harlequins are in the last four of the Champions Cup while Gloucester will have home advantage in their Challenge Cup semi-final against Benetton.

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Springbok legend Victor Matfield gives his verdict on Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White

Springbok legend Victor Matfield said the Bulls are starting to reap the rewards of Jake White’s planning, including the development of some future Springboks.

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Springbok legend Victor Matfield gives his verdict on Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White

Springbok legend Victor Matfield said the Bulls are starting to reap the rewards of Jake White’s planning, including the development of some future Springboks.

English rugby’s top clubs are operating with a £5m salary cap that will rise to £6.4m next season which means they will still lag behind the financial strength of the Top 14 which has attracted a raft of England players including Jack Willis, Henry Arundell, Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola.

Skivington said: “There is a lot more money in other competitions and the French and Irish have an advantage.

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“But, I think people underestimate how tough the Premiership is as a competition. It is absolutely ruthless and you have seen this season that if you win or lose a couple of games is the difference between where we sit right now (ninth) and having an opportunity to be in the playoffs.

“People underestimate the league and Harlequins and Northampton have done a great job to be in the Champions Cup semi-finals and turned over some quality teams to do that.

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“The Premiership deserves a lot of respect because it is a ruthless competition week in, week out. We have to be honest about the money and it allows you to have more depth in your squad.

“With Premiership teams, you find that if you lose a couple of players in one position you are reliant on the academy lads or bringing people in on loan.

“It is never going to be a level playing field but in the Premiership you have some really good coaches getting really good value out of players with good systems.

“The Premiership is in a really good situation and we have seen the sharp end of that this season. We can compete (in Europe) if you get a bit of luck.”

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Gloucester head to Saracens on Saturday looking to rest key players with Exeter Chiefs and that semi-final looming.

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Abe 2 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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T
Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

17 Go to comments
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