Monday, May 7, 2012

Aviva Premiership - Round 22 Wrap

Horacio Agulla
Agulla scores try number seven of the season for Leicester

Round 22, the final round of the season´s regular play took place this past weekend in England, confirming the Top Four who will play in Semi Finals as well the two two other sides who have qualified to be England´s six teams in next seasons Heineken Cup. The Semi Finals will be contested by three of the same four teams from last season. Gloucester´s horror season means the team misses out not only on a Semi Final´s place but has also failed to qualify for the Heineken Cup. London based side, the Harlequins replace Gloucester in the top four and finished top of the table after being greatly advantaged in the early stages of the season due to other sides missing large numbers of players to World Cup duty.

The Harlequins will host the Northampton Saints in one Semi Final while the Leicester Tigers will host Saracens in the other. Both will be played this coming Saturday at the home venues of these clubs. Such is the lack of quality organization in English rugby that one of the Semi Finals will be played at a 12,000 capacity venue. It coincides with the RFU´s lack of international matches outside of London as Twickenham has hosted every home match over the past decade. The only match that England has played at a different venue was at Old Trafford in 2009 when the UAR moved the match from Buenos Aires to Manchester in an attempt to make a large profit from the fixture. The Greater Metropolitan area of Manchester is home to the Sale Sharks and now the club is the Northern most team in the Aviva Premiership following the Newcastle Falcon´s win over the London Wasps which sees the Falcons relegated due to the Wasps´ winning a bonus point. 

Both Newcastle and Manchester are to host World Cup matches in 2015 in big stadiums. yet these venues never host Aviva Premiership or Heineken Cup matches. The RFU needs to show vision here to collaborate with clubs so that there can be matches played at the likes of Leeds, Liverpool, Coventry and Southampton  between now and 2015. Tests should also be played in these areas. November 2012´s home test vs Fiji would be a good one to be played at Coventry. 

It is not yet clear who will be replacing Newcastle in the English Top Flght but it is likely to be Bristol who have been in the second division since being relegated in 2009. Bristol replacing Northampton is bad news for World Cup organizers just like Worcester replacing Leeds was last season. Bristol´s neighbour, the Exeter Chiefs made history on Saturday in finishing fifth in the Aviva Premiership to qualify for the Heineken Cup. The Chiefs and the sixth placed Sale Sharks will join the top four in next seasons European competition.

Leicester Tigers 28-3 Bath
Pumas winger Horacio Agulla continued his sublime season, which has earned him Leicester player of the year and try of the year as he scored a try in the Tigers win vs Bath. Agulla played the full match and was joined by fellow Puma, Marcos Ayerza who played 64 minutes at loosehead prop. This weekend the Buenos Aires pair were also named in the Aviva Premiership Dream XV by English World Cup Winning centre, Will Greenwood. While a third Argentine player started, with the Italian international Martín Castrogiovanni playing tighthead prop.

London Irish Exiles 52-18 Gloucester
Canada´s Jebb Sinclair did not play and nor did Argentina´s Matias Cortese. The former Pumas hooker will not be saint at Gloucester next season. The match was overshadowed by a fight between David Paice and Scottish international Jim Hamilton. 

London Wasps 10-14 Newcastle Falcons
USA centre Paul Emerick missed the match for the Wasps.

Northampton Saints 42-14 Worcester Warriors
USA secondrower Samu Manoa did not play for the Saints nor did USA hooker Chris Biller. 

Sale Sharks 10-24 Harlequins
Secondrower Tomás Vallejos Cinalli was on the bench for the Quins but departing inside back, Benjamin Urdapilleta was left out of the match day 23. Young Argentine wniger, Joaquin Tuculet did not play for the Sharks. 

Saracens 40-22 Exeter Chiefs
USA Eagles fullback, Chris Wyles played outside centre for the home side and was joined by the Argentine-Italian Carlos Nieto. Gonzalo Camacho missed the match for the Chiefs due to injury while Ignacio Mieres was on the bench.

Aviva Premiership Standings
1 Harlequins 75
2 Leicester 74
3 Saracens 73
4 Northampton 65
5 Exeter 59
6 Sale 49
7 L Irish 45
8 Bath 44
9 Gloucester 44
10 Worcester 36
11 L Wasps 33
12 Newcastle 32

* Qualified for Semi Finals and next seasons Heineken Cup
*Qualified for next seasons Heineken Cup
* Relegated 

Wasps vs Newcastle

Northampton vs Worcester

London Irish vs Gloucester Fight

Sale vs Harlequins

Saracens vs Exeter

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