Last Weekend’s Champions Cup Results Prove One Thing Must Change In The Premiership
Players need to be managed better.
This past weekend is one to forget as quick as possible for the English Premiership teams. The attritional nature of the Premiership, and the seemingly unwillingness to rest players, seems to have finally caught up with the top English teams as all seven involved in European action failed to win their games.
The once unstoppable force of Saracens have now lost a whopping six games in a row for the first time in their history after their record defeat to Clermont, while Harlequins, Exeter, Northampton, Leicester, Wasps and Bath all recorded defeats against Irish and French opposition.
We complain about the attritional nature of the Top 14, but it’s nothing compared to what we’re now seeing in England. Take the Lions tour for example. PRO14 Lions were held back as far as round 5 in some cases, while a number of English Lions were thrust back in for round one of the Premiership.
More recently the week in between the Autumn Internationals saw most English players return to Premiership action, while the majority PRO14 players were given the week off to rest for Europe. In terms of France and the Top 14 clubs, a lot of their players aren’t playing international rugby.
There’s been talks of a strike from some Premiership players if the season is increased, and to think this has even been explored (increasing the length of the season) is madness. Player welfare needs to be managed a lot better in England or the train is going to derail.
All the work Eddie Jones has put in to turn the national team around will be in vain, as his players will be burnt out come the 2019 Rugby World Cup. And the Premiership sides will continue to struggle in Europe.
Premiership Rugby could learn a thing or two from the PRO14. Stop spending all your money on teams, and build a squad. Top level players need to rest.