After making headlines this week for adjusting the interpretation of laws at the breakdown to produce a more entertaining game, the powers-that-be have taken another step to liven things up a little next season – and we’ve had advance warning of the changes here at The Rugby Blog.
Following the trend set by the Super Rugby teams and the IPL franchises, several of the twelve Guinness Premiership teams will take on a new identity, although it was stressed that nothing else about the club setup, it’s ground or personnel would change.
The move has been recommended by a team of marketing consultants hired to inject more excitement into England’s domestic rugby, to encourage greater attendances at matches and to ensure sponsorship funding is maintained, and then increased over a three year period.
For example, London Irish have been asked to drop the confusing location reference, and will become the Reading Rockets, whilst Harlequins will become the Twickenham Torpedos.
Clubs like Leicester Tigers, Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors have been allowed to keep their names, but Newcastle Falcons and London Wasps have been told that their names are not ‘exciting or ferocious’ enough, and they will become the Newcastle Knight Riders and the High Wycombe Hornets. Apparently, there was some debate over whether a wasp was more dangerous than a hornet, but Lawrence Dallaglio’s cause was lost on this occasion.
It is not yet known what will happen to the team that gets promoted from the Championship, but it is anticipated that there will be another renaming exercise as part of the assessment as to whether that club fulfills the entry criteria for the top flight.
We spoke to Will Skinner, the Harlequins captain, who described the move as “commercialism gone mad”, and whilst you can hear the full interview in this week’s Podcast, here is a brief clip of what he had to say:
Here is the full list of the Guinness Premiership teams that will line up against each other next season:
High Wycombe Hornets
Newcastle Knight Riders
What does everyone think? Is this a good move for the Premiership? Are these ‘marketing consultants’ earning their considerable fees?