The Gallagher Premiership concluded with Exeter Chiefs being crowned the winners. They narrowly beat Wasps 19-13 at a very wet and windy Twickenham. Exeter fly half Joe Simmonds slotted the final kick of the match to seal the double for the Chiefs. Below is Last Word‘s round up of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership.
The rugby season lasted a year and six days in total due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Though it was a joy to be able to see the game on our screens, even if it was later than planned. It’s been a fantastic season.
The season began way back on October 18 2019. London Irish gained promotion and Saracens were facing relegation the following season after breaching the salary cap back at the beginning of this year. Sarries had already been deducted 35 points for the current Premiership campaign and fined £5.4m for three seasons’. It was confirmed not long after that Newcastle Falcons would be taking their place.
In March, the UK went into lockdown and rugby was put on pause for a total of five months. Players hadn’t endured a break as long as that in their careers before. However, with a lot of patience, Zoom conferences and individual fitness plans provided by their clubs, they were finally given the news they’d all been waiting for.
The Premiership resumed on15 August bringing to an end a 159-day hiatus forced by the pandemic.
A month later, fans were allowed back into some grounds to watch their beloved club again. Around 2,700 fans were allowed into the Twickenham Stoop stadium in London to watch Harlequins against Bath. The match was selected by the government as part of a test project to see whether fans could safely return to live sport during the pandemic. Unfortunately though, Covid levels rose within a month of this pilot scheme and the government announced all games would be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable. This has cost the RFU millions and the Chief Executive, Bill Sweeney, has called for a bailout from the government.
Despite a challenging season for so many, it’s not stopped players putting their hand up for selection and them playing some of the best rugby of their lives. Here are just some of the exceptional players who have been outstanding this season.
With 52 appearances and counting in a Harlequins jersey, Alex Dombrandt has had a phenomenal season. The former Welsh U20’s player has been included in Jones’ initial squad for the Autumn Internationals. England fans will remember Alex Dombrandt for his stunning performance in the Quilter Cup game against the Baa-Baa’s at Twickenham. Making a first outing for the England XV side, he crossed the whitewash twice in a Man of the Match performance where his powerful ball carrying and beautiful off-loading skills were on show. For someone of his calibre, he is so nippy and explosive when he comes on as replacement for Quins. He’s a skilful player who hits big lines in attack. Will he be making his debut next weekend against Italy? We’ll have to wait and see..
At only 23-years-old, the back rower has been immense for Wasps. His work at the breakdown is formidable and his athleticism is sublime. This season, he won 44 turnovers for Wasps, that’s one more turnover than all of the Exeter Chiefs squad put together! When warming up in yesterday’s final, he looked like he was going to do the splits…He’s known as the ‘Turnover King’ and despite the horrendous injury he suffered before the Rugby World Cup, he’s not let it impact his performance one bit. Willis is speedy, stupendous and scintillating in defence. The flanker has got potential to be one of England’s greatest.
At the age of just 19, Louis Rees-Zammit burst onto the Gloucester scene. He made his debut for the senior squad last season, when he was part of the team selected for the west country derby against Bath. He’s immense in attack and his offloads are deadly. For someone who is still so young, he reads the game so well and has a naughty step. On Saturday he deservedly earnt his first cap for Wales in their defeat against France. He’s bound to be earning many more in the future.
So there we have it, a round up of the 2019/20 season. Who’ll be next to impress when the Gallagher Premiership resumes in just under a month’s time?
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