LONDON, ENGLAND – If you follow the Heineken Cup, then it’s no surprise that the French may be leaving this year. If this were to happen the English clubs probably wouldn’t be far behind. While this may just be a rude awakening, it raises an interesting question on what has happened to the English and French clubs within the European Competition. We haven’t seen an English team win the final in six years. Is it time to Reform The Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership?
Maybe not… The answer solution could lie in some basic schedule revamping.
The English Clubs play too many games during the season! 22 regular season games, – add in the 2 post season matches – and at least 6 Heineken Cup games. That math adds up to a total of 28 games. When we add in internationals, it’s simply too much. And the product suffers. We watch teams come to the end of the season and it’s not always the best team that wins… it’s most often the team with the best health.
So how can we fix this? My solution is a league structure that sees less league games; down to 16 from 22. Have the Premiership teams play each team once in the first half of the season, with last year’s bottom half teams hosting the top half. Once this half season has been completed, the teams can be split into two parts. The top play a round robin series for the Premiership Final, where as the bottom six play off for the Plate. This allows for a 16-game regular season, while maintaining a proper income from the “big” teams. It’ll also provide for a more competitive game system.
The Championship (English 2nd division) currently does this – where the teams play each other once and then have a play-off pool for Promotion and Relegation – playing a total of 22 games. Very few of these clubs play in the European Rugby Cup or any other outside competition, so it would be about the same amount of games as the Premiership.
The reduced amount of games would allow for the Heineken matches to be less of a drain on the French and English squads… What do you think?