2018/19 Premiership Glory awaits at Twickenham
The grand Twickenham stage has hosted the Premiership Rugby Final since the 2002-03 season when London Wasps became the first ever winners of the Premiership Final. That success, a resounding 39-3 victory over Gloucester, sparked a run of three straight titles for Wasps.
That was the start of some enduring memories created in the spectacle at Twickenham, including former England star Josh Lewsey becoming the first player to score a try in a Premiership Final.
To this day, while a couple have come close, no team has been able to emulate the three-peat of titles that Wasps took right at the start of the new format of Premiership rugby. But who will be crowned the 2018/19 Champions as Saracens look for a title defence?
The Big Change
The first season of the Premiership was in 1997/98 but it wasn’t until the 2002/03 season that the new format for deciding the champion was introduced. Prior to then, it was the team who finished top of the pile at the end of the regular season who were crowned champions.
It then moved to the top three teams going forward to where 2nd v 3rd played a match to meet the 1st-placed team in the Final. That was changed in 2005/06 season to make it the top four teams going through to the semi-finals under the format of 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd.
The winners of the semi-finals then meet in a battle for the title in the Premiership Final which has been held at the magnificent Twickenham Stadium, home of England rugby, every season.
When the 2019 final kicks off on Saturday, June 1st at Twickenham, it will be the 17th Premiership Final fixture. It is a tremendous spectacle of English rugby at its best, with vociferous support ringing around the ground, as the top prize in English domestic rugby is on the line. To get to the Final the two teams will have come through 22 regular season matches and a semi-final. Then it’s down to a no-holds-barred 80 minutes to be crowned Premiership champions.
Most Premiership Final Appearances
Even though it has been a hugely disappointing 2018/19 Premiership campaign from the Leicester Tigers, they do hold the record of having reached the most Premiership Finals. Nine times they have played in the showcase match at the end of the season, with them having claimed the title four times. That’s not all, all nine of their appearances in the Premiership Final came in consecutive years between 2005 and 2012.
The early dominance of Wasps has already been touched upon and they are one of just three teams to have pulled off a successful title defence. Because Wasps won it three times in a row, they actually managed two successful, consecutive title defences. The other achievers of this feat were Leicester in 2010 and Saracens in 2016. Leicester Tigers, incidentally are the only team to have lost back to back Premiership Finals (twice).
The Magic Number 5
The race to become the first team to win five Premiership Finals remains on. The most successful teams since the reformatting of the Premiership in 2002, has been Wasps, Leicester and Saracens who have all won the title four times. Of those, current title-holders Saracens are the only ones to have guaranteed themselves a place in the 2018/19 semi-finals.
Biggest Winning Margin
It is remarkable just how long some records can stand. The biggest margin of victory ever posted in a Premiership Final was back in the inaugural match between London Wasps and Gloucester. Wasps produced a 36-point margin of victory over the Cherry & Whites. That margin of success in a Premiership Final has remained unchallenged since. The next highest winning margin is 25 points recorded by Sale over Leicester in 2006 and then by Leicester over Gloucester twelve months later.
Most Final Defeats Without A Win
As with any big event, there always has to be a loser on the day. It’s easy to forget the team who has lost and for some, Premiership Final glory still eludes them. The team with the most appearances in the Final but without having won the showcase match is Gloucester. They were in that inaugural Premiership Final fixture against Wasps and then against Leicester in 2007. The Cherry & Whites suffered 36 and 25 point margin defeats in those games, respectively. Gloucester will have a chance to write a new chapter of history in 2019 though, having booked a semi-final place.
Premiership Final Winners
While 2019 is going to be the 17th edition of the Premiership Final at Twickenham, there are only a handful of teams who have been crowned champion there. They are Wasps (4), Sale (1), Leicester (4), Saracens (4), Harlequins (1), Northampton (1) and Exeter (1).
More Time Please
The first time that a Premiership Final went to extra time was in 2014 when Northampton took a 24-20 victory over Saracens after things had been level 14-14 at the end of regulation. To date, the 2017 Final between Exeter and Wasps is the only other final to have gone to extra time (Exeter prevailing on that occasion).=
Table Toppers = Premiership Final Winners?
Naturally, the team who finishes top of the ladder at the end of the regular season is expected to have the best shot at landing the tile. There are only four teams though who have completed the season by winning the Final after having finished top of the table. They are Leicester (2009 and 2010), Sale (2006), Harlequins (2012) and Saracens (2016).
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