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The reason why ex-England prop Dan Cole insists rugby should remain a winter sport

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Ex-England and Leicester prop Dan Cole has volunteered an excellent reason as to why the Gallagher Premiership should not change the timing of its season. With scoring on the increase in the league in recent times amid the good weather and bright evenings, there has been a suggestion that the Premiership should become a summer sport and move away from its traditional September to June window which sees numerous games played in the depths of the English winter.


In the 15 matches played in the last three rounds of matches ahead of this weekend’s semi-finals, a total of 852 points was scored – on average 62 per game. Cole himself even accounted for five, scoring a rare try in the Leicester win over Wasps.

It’s a generous increase in Premiership points when compared to the scoring in this season’s round three, four and five games during December and January. A total of 644 points were scored in the 14 matches played across those three rounds, an average of 46 per game, but Cole is a staunch advocate of winter rugby and the Leicester tighthead doesn’t want the season structure to change despite some calls for the tournament to be played the whole way through the summer months.

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RugbyPass is sharing unique stories from iconic British and Irish Lions tours to South Africa in proud partnership with The Famous Grouse, the Spirit of Rugby
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RugbyPass is sharing unique stories from iconic British and Irish Lions tours to South Africa in proud partnership with The Famous Grouse, the Spirit of Rugby

Looking red in the face following the sunshine of recent weeks, Cole told RugbyPass why he is a traditionalist who wants the Premiership to remain a competition that is played through the winter months. “I don’t want to get panned for saying rugby should be a winter sport,” he said, a debate in which Exeter boss Rob Baxter studiously said his piece recently about.

“It’s too hot to run around in summer. Look, it is whatever, we do what we’re told. I know the international rugby year, the international rugby season, is coming and partly one thing people want to see is running rugby, ball in play and that kind of stuff.

“But if we are going to be nausey about things, pitch technology has moved on to the point now where you can have a good grass surface in winter so you can still play in winter whereas previously you would play on a bog which means the ball is never in play whereas now you can, the winter pitches are great. You can play and yes it might be a bit colder and wetter, but the quality of rugby being played now in winter is much better than it was five, ten years ago. For me, keep it as a winter game but I guess I get sunburned in the sun so that’s why.”

Asked about how supporters might feel if given a winter/summer choice, Cole continued: “The support in winter, I remember big European games, you play Boxing Day, you have great support and it’s brilliant. You have 26,000 people here on Boxing Day and it’s the loudest stadium and it’s brilliant because it is part of the festive season in some regards. One thing is whether it is played in summer or winter rugby is great with the spectators there and people enjoying the game and appreciating it. The players love it.”



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