I hadn’t been to a Rugby Union match since watching Ireland play Australia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in November 2013. So it was long overdue that I witnessed another, and the Premiership Rugby Final on a hot, sunny day on the 1st of day of June seemed like the perfect return.
I don’t follow domestic rugby as much as I should, with Rugby Union generally only coming on my radar for the Six Nations, Summer/Autumn International’s and the Rugby World Cup. So I can’t say that I’d followed the Premiership Rugby season avidly leading up this Final, however I was aware that Saracens had just won the European Rugby Champions Cup and widely touted as one of the best ever club sides, whilst the Exeter Chiefs had topped the regular season table.
Personally, it does always seem unfair to me in league formats similar to this, that after a long season (22 matches in this case), despite topping the league you’re not crowned as the champions and have to fight through a Play-off system. Exeter Chiefs were the losers of this format on this occasion, as despite finishing top of the league by 8 points to Saracens, they had to fight their way to the Final.
On the flip side, without this format we wouldn’t have this thriller of a match. The Chiefs took the lead immediately from kick-off, scoring a try after just 27 seconds and at one point, extended their lead to 27-16. However, the Saracens overturned the largest deficit witnessed in a Premiership Final to edge out the Chiefs 37-34. Throw in a couple of yellow cards and Owen Farrell being very hit and miss, and it really was a great match to watch as a neutral.
I enjoyed my afternoon at Twickenham Stadium, its always a great experience at the home of Rugby Union – my lasting memory of the afternoon however will be the song played after each Chiefs try (I later found out it’s known as the Tomahawk Chop). I feel for the Chiefs as mentioned above, but the rather irritating fan sat in front of me who was constantly looking for attention from other fans by shouting and dancing around whilst spilling his never ending supply of beer everywhere, and only relentedrele once Saracens took the lead with 20 minutes to go did seriously test my sympathy for his club.
Until next time Rugby Union, this time I won’t leave it so long.