For the past 3 years we’ve see the big money clubs in France attracting the superstars of rugby. We’ve seen Toulon turn from the D2 team in to the “galactico” of Europe, the likes of Toulouse, Castres, Stade and Clermont have made the big name signings and quite rightly so. The Top14 has become one of the most highly respected leagues in the world!
But now there’s another upcoming league and I’m happy to announce that this is the Aviva premiership – the likes of Northampton, Sarecens and Bath have made some massive signings. These players are making a huge impact on the game.
Unfortunately when Harlequins won the title, the Premiership wasn’t what it is now, we’ve got to hand it to BTsport for making rugby more accessible to the nation, and buying the TV rights for £152 million must have had an impact on the game financially. The Boxing Day game at Twickenham between Quins & Saints had a sell out crowd of 82,000 – a sign that the game has really become ever more so popular!
Now to the big names; We’ve seen the likes of George North turning down a move to France to join Saints, Burgess going to Bath and the London South Africa outfit at Sarries. We’ve got a lot more to come too… Quins are finally getting some recognition in the signings stakes too with James Horwill and Cipriani rumoured to be signing next season, although if he chooses to stay at Sale will sign Jimmy Gopperth from Leinster. You can’t fault the Quins academy, what with their academy producing some outstanding talent!
Not only are the English teams Attracting big names but supplying them too, luckily the Pisi boys have signed new contracts to stay with Saints rather than cross the channel to Castres, a team in dire circumstances! The talk of Kieran Brookes signing for Saints next season is great news too. The lad is 21 years of age and showing great maturity in his game but I can’t see him jumping the queue in front of Denman, who I add, has been showing some fine form! Obviously Saints will be loosing Ma’afu and Manoa to Toulon with a maybe trade signing of Steffon Armitage to Saints.
Saints supplied Racing Metro with to fantastic front rowers in Mujati and Tonga’uhia, Muj had already made his name but in all fairness it was Saints who made Tonga’uhia the player he is today. When Tong’uhia left Bedford Blues he was a bit of a puddin’ but he put the work in at Northampton and later became one of the best front three in the country.
There’s Biggar talk too, pardon the pun! With some of the Welsh Elite joining Glous at the beginning of this season there’s been word of a small exodus travelling over the bridge. Glous made some sterling and clever signings before the beginning of the season with the likes of Greg Laidlaw, James Hook, Jon Afoa and for me; their best bit of work was clinching Richard Hibbard. But the jungle drums have been ringing words of Dan Biggar, Toby Falitau and Reece Preistland finding refuge in the premiership next season!
So watch this space!!! Especially with Wasps finally getting their own ground, London Irish securing massive investment and you can’t doubt the Aviva Premierships business model. We’ve also got exciting teams producing fantastic English talent and that talent will probably want to stay in the Premiership to boost their England International hopes and dreams.
It’s the teams like Newcastle and Exeter who are now becoming a foot up for young BRITISH talent.