September Rugby Union Round Up
Posted on September 22, 2020
It is a welcome relief to see last season’s games coming to a conclusion. COVID has disrupted sporting fixtures across the world, and Rugby Union certainly wasn’t immune to it. Whilst fans are still not allowed back into stadiums, it is some consolation that our rugby heroes can take to the pitch and we can watch them on TV. Here we review five of the key topics in Rugby Union over the last week.
Plans to bring fans back is postponed
All major sports in England have been played behind closed doors since the COVID lockdown in March. This includes England’s Test match, Formula 1 races, all football matches and of course rugby union matches. Many sports fans are grateful however that matches can still go ahead, at least for the time being.
The Government got fan’s hopes up by proposing plans to bring spectators back to sporting venues from 1st October. It was intended as a staged programme with reduced capacity in stadiums. Unfortunately, the UK COVID-19 alert level has been increased to 4 which means cases of the virus are increasing exponentially.
The Government have now paused the programme, promising when circumstances allow, they will get people back to watching the sports they love. The English Rugby Football Union claim they will lose £50 million in revenue. The England Rugby Union squad have all agreed to a 25% reduction in pay for the next year.
Fixtures Confirmed for Autumn Nations Cup
The Autumn Nations Cup will be a take on the Six Nations, whilst also introducing Georgia and Fiji into the tournament. The format will be two pools of four. Group A, arguably the toughest group will consist of England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia. Group B will be Scotland, France, Italy and Fiji.
The tournament kicks off with the Ireland vs Wales clash at the Avivia Stadium on Friday 13th November. The tournament will finish on the weekend of the 5th/6th December with a final round of matches. Each team will play the team ranked in the same position in the other pool i.e. 1st will play 1st, 2nd will play 2nd and so on.
Amazon Prime will be providing TV coverage for all of the matches.
Sale Sharks finally end their wait for Silverware
Sale beat Harlequins 27-19 to win the Premiership Cup. It was their first piece of silverware since 2006. The final was re-arranged due to COVID, but it was worth the wait. It was a tense match with Sale leading 10-0. Marcus Smith helped put the ‘Quins ahead with 14 points scored from his boot. Chisolm added a try to put Harlequin into a commanding 19-10 lead.
Two late converted tries helped steer Sale to victory enabling them to claim their first trophy since they won the Premiership in 2006.
European Champions Cup Semi-Finalists announced
The quarter-finals were scheduled to be played in April but were delayed until last weekend due to COVID. What a weekend of games it was, especially the Leinster vs Saracens game. Following Saracen’s fall from grace, everybody expected Leinster to win. Even though Saracens were the defending champions, their starting XV was distinctly different from the team that won it last time around.
Saracens were leading 22-3 at half time following an excellent first-half performance, focused on forward domination. Leinster came back in the second half but could only score an additional 14 points. The champions of England and Europe went on to win the match 25-17. A semi-final place will be some consolation for demotion to the Championship next season, following their salary cap shame last season.
Saracens will play Racing 92 in the semi-final. Exeter Chiefs will play Toulouse. The winners of each game will play in the final the weekend of the 16/17th/18th October 2020.
Brumbies win the Super Rugby AU Trophy
The Brumbies completed their Super Rugby AU campaign on a high. They defeated the Queensland Reds 28-23 in the final at the GIO Stadium in Canberra. They went into the match with an excellent record against the Reds. They had won 74% of their matches against them, winning 25 out of 34 matches against them.
They broke their 16-year title drought to claim the trophy and were worthy winners.
It’s great to see the world of Rugby Union back on its feet playing again. We look forward to the last rounds of the European Champions Cup, and of course the exciting Autumn Nations Cup.