In many sports it is considered the standard that in a league competition whoever finishes with the most points is essentially the winner or the champion. However the Aviva Premiership and RFU Championship along with many American sports like to do things differently, in both of these competitions at the tail end of the season the league splits into a play-off set up. The main reason behind this is to extend the season and increase revenue. In my opinion, it is simply a very outdated marketing ploy.
I put it to the fans out there that we don’t have a play-off system but increase the number of teams in the Aviva premiership and the RFU Championship, if the RFU incorporated an extra two teams into both divisions. The increase of two teams to the leagues would add two further fixtures to the league much like what the play offs add to the season for two lucky teams. This would atleast mean come the end of the season the team at the summit would be declared the champion. The format at the base of the table would stay the same and just one team relegated and promoted each year is enough. Considering all of the Stadium and facilities restrictions in place more than that would stretch most teams capabilities of achieving promotion, without going through the courts like London Welsh anyway.
As with every idea there are bound to be drawbacks for instance, by taking away the play-offs you also take away a huge fixture from Twickenham at the end of the season. This fixture tends to sell out every year and is a bumper payday for the RFU and a tremendous spectacle for fans. Losing such an enormously exciting event at the home of Rugby could be deemed a travesty by many but why can’t this be replaced by another competition final. I for one believe the format of the LV anglo-welsh cup needs tweaking but that’s another article all together.
The other drawback could be that a team heavily involved in a competition like the Heineken Cup could suffer fatigue and lose out on both. In my eyes that’s just a hardship of the professional era and I would sooner see that than the tactics London Wasps employed just a few years ago back in the 2007/08 season. Where they played their strongest side in the Heineken Cup and occasionally rested key players in the Premiership, that season London Wasps were sat in 8th or 9th when they were knocked out of the Heineken Cup and then ploughed every ounce of energy into the league competition and on the final day of the regular season achieved fourth place and the final play-off position. Eventually winning the Premiership Play-off’s by beating Leicester in the final.
Since the 200/01 season there have only been four occasions where the team that has finished top has gone on to win the Play-offs it might just be me but I don’t see that as fair. I am all for change as you may be able to tell and as open-minded the RFU are to law variations they are not so accepting of format changes.
Who knows what the future holds for the English game but hopefully positive changes will be made.