Gloucester top at the end of regular season

James Simpson-Daniel

Gloucester overcame Bath 8-6 on the last day of the Guinness Premiership to clinch top spot at the end of the regular season. James Simpson-Daniel was sublime, with one of the tries of the year and picked up the Man of the Match award.

Unfortunately for the Cherry and Whites, it’s not actually the end of the season – they now face Leicester in the semi-finals and then the winner of Wasps or Bath if they make the final.

Wasps snatched second place with a bonus point victory over Leeds, and that secures the London side an all-important semi-final.

Leicester snuck into the top four at the eleventh hour with a last-minute victory over Harlequins to set up a showdown with Gloucester. Sale was the most disappointing team at the weekend, seemingly devoid of ambition in a 17-7 home defeat to London Irish.

The debate about the value of the knockout stages has been fairly quiet over the last couple of seasons. It seems to me the first opportunity to reduce the number of matches in a congested end-of-season schedule, but on the other hand, the next two rounds of matches should be incredible occasions.

What do people think? Presumably Wasps fans are in favour, whilst Gloucester fans might not be so keen?

4 thoughts on “Gloucester top at the end of regular season

  1. Whilst fixture congestion exists, the playoffs are essential. Look at Wasps, during the world cup it wasn’t going so well, their half of the England team came back, and look at them now.

    There would be a bigger disincentive to supply international players than already exists should the playoffs vanish. (Despite the efforts of the PRL to give more money to clubs who don’t supply internationals in order to ‘balance’ the RFU funds)

    In addition, they provide a definite climax to the season. A single event to top it off…

  2. The Lions might have something to say about fixture congestion next year when the GP final takes place on the same day as the first Lions game.

    And didn’t we tour SA last year without players from our top teams? The summer tour has been a waste of time in the last few years, because players are too tired to tour…too many games perhaps?

  3. I was always against the play-off system when it came in just because of the simple fact that a team that’s top after 22 games deserves it more than a team that’s done just enough to qualify and then had two good games.

    That said though, now they’ve been around a few years (and let’s face it, they’re here to stay) I think it’s hard to deny they have produced some great rugby, and Mark makes a very good point about teams that lose their internationals for part of the season deserving to make up lost ground.

    And rather than moan about Wasps and the way they’ve managed to win it with a late run, teams should try and emulate them and peak at the right time.

    Equally valid point from James about how the playoffs can almost run in to the summer tours and Lions tours, but the answer to that dilemma is simple. It’s also one that’s been much debated already on these very pages – get rid of that EDF crap that no one cares about and there’s some of the fixture congestion gone!

  4. I like the play-offs for a number of reasons. Obviously, as spectators, we get more highly competitive, intense and exciting games to watch. I also like that it forces our top players to deal with such high-pressure situations. The critics of the play-off system (farmer boys included) don’t like that the team that performs best over the regular season may not win. Well, guess what guys, if that is the guiding principle you want to adopt, we should cancel the RWC and just give Bill to the team with the best IRB ranking every four years. Maybe some of the grit and determination that saw England win the big games in the last RWC was due to the players’ experience in the play-offs. OK, maybe not that big a part.
    I think the balance with the play-offs is just right. In US sports, the main teams often seal their places a few games before the end of the season, and effectively take a few weeks off. Not good for the fans. But last week’s end to the regular season was tight and pretty exciting. Bring on the play-offs – can’t wait. Would love to see Wasps do it to see LD off in style.

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