www.hostafan.co - Host a fan
Posted 23/06/2022 in English Premiership by Host a Fan

5 Reasons 2021/22 was the Best Premiership Season EVER!

5 Reasons 2021/22 was the Best Premiership Season EVER!

Aaaand breathe! Well, you’ll probably need to after that breathless end to an enthralling Gallagher Premiership season. 

The best ever? It may sound like a bold claim (or like a One Direction song) but here’s 5 good reasons why it was the best Premiership season ever

5. Sub-plots aplenty 

Bath's was one of many sub-plots of an intriguing season

Whether it was down the south west corridor (okay, mainly down the south west corridor), the fading of Exeter’s Chefs - sorry, Chiefs - or Leicester’s unbeaten start, there were plenty of surprising sub-plots to this year’s Premiership tale. Bath imploded and were rooted to the foot of the table for pretty much the whole season, briefly enjoying the dizzy heights of 12th when Worcester decided to tease their local rivals by moving into bottom spot on the penultimate round of the season, just so they could really rub it in and thrash their opponents on the final day, sending them hurtling back to their new home in 13th position. 

Anyway, there could be a whole write up on Bath’s season alone but that’s for another day. They did, at least manage a last-minute home victory against their closest rivals (geographically at least), Bristol Bears. Many expected Pat Lam’s 2020 Challenge Cup winners to prowl their way to the Play-Off places but they languished, stuttered and ultimately had to make do with a lowly and disappointing tenth place. Meanwhile, more positively, London Irish were the surprise package of the season and many people’s favourite team to watch (or no, is it just me and my patriotic Irishness coming to the fore?). Either way, they were a breath of fresh air, which is somewhat ironic considering their new location next to the smoggy M4. 

And a final word for Leicester who would have been relegated as recently as 2020 (were it not for Saracens’ off-the-pitch misdemeanours) but under the astute tutelage of Steve Borthwick and potentially inspired by their footballing neighbours, made it to January unbeaten, winning their first 11 games of the season and not only finished top of the pile at the end but clinched it in the final too (see below). 

4. The Return of fans 

At The Stoop, Rec and Welford Road, fans were back in their droves. 

Okay, I guess you could say this one is conditional on fans not being there in the first place due to the covid-enforced hiatus of the last couple of years. But… as a host community for travelling fans, I simply couldn’t ignore this one. I’ve been to grounds all around the country and the tail end of this season finally felt like a return to ‘normal’, pre-covid times. To see players celebrating euphorically in front of adoring fans, pubs packed with punters (without silly little blue masks) and the players mingling with supporters after matches in the way that only rugby players know how to, has been simply priceless.

To have over 72,000 people packed into Twickenham for Saturday’s final and for Harlequins’ Big Summer Kick Off was both a wonderful and welcome sight. There was the addition of Brentford’s Community Stadium (BCS just in case I have to write that out again), adding some welcoming and bright colour and not so welcoming M4 pollution to the Premiership. A shout out also to Bath here too, with the highest stadium capacity % of the season and the fourth highest average attendance full despite their wretched season. We are based in Bath too so I better appease those Bath members. 

3. 398 Points on the Final Day!

LRZ scores one of 56 tries on the final day

Let’s be honest, no one wants a final day where there’s nothing really up for grabs. Nothing, that is, apart from the chance to bask in the early summer sunshine and the pre-summer holiday bragging rights. Quite literally, from the top to the bottom, this Premiership season had it all to play for going into the final round of fixtures. Top spot was still up for grabs. Bath and Worcester went head-to-head to avoid the not-actually-relegated thirteenth place at the bottom of the table. Northampton Saints (or should that be Paints?  See here), Gloucester and Sale Sharks went into the final day with a hope of reaching the promised land of the Play-Offs and a momentum-fuelled march to the title. 

It was the Saints whose prayers were answered with a haul of no less than ten tries at Franklin Gardens, wedging Newcastle Falcons into the meat in the sandwich position between bottom-placed Bath and 11th placed Worcester, despite the Geordies scoring four tries of their own. Those 14 tries contributed to a record-breaking 56 tries on a thrilling and enthralling final day of the regulation season, with an average of 9.3 significantly more than the season-average of 6.8 which in itself was a new record (see below). The pick of the action came at Sandy Park as Exeter Chefs - sorry, Chiefs  (why do I keep doing that?)  - finished in style with a thumping 47-38 victory over semi-finalists Harlequins. There were 398 points scored in total and just when you thought it really couldn’t get any better, Saracens were also roundly beaten, going down 54-7 at Kingsholm. In total, there were an astonishing 398 final day points scored across the board; a fitting way to end a truly scintillating season. 

2.That drop goal 

Yes, that one. 

Freddie Burns’ own Jonny Wilkinson moment. The Premiership’s version of Aguerooooooo. A moment in English rugby history. Call it what you Jonny May (sorry - couldn’t resist), but Freddie Burns’ last gasp drop goal at Twickenham in the grand final was sporting drama at its very best. There were less than ten seconds left when the realisation of a potential last minute Premiership-winning drop goal spread through the stadium like a big game of Chinese whispers. Ben Youngs bent over the ruck looking for his prey like a Tiger prodding a carcass for its fleshy, bloody meat. He glanced to his right where Burns was ready and waiting to light the blue touch paper. It all came down to this. Despite the sense of sporting crescendo, Burns remained ice cold to write his name into Tigers, Premiership and English rugby history with one magic swing of his right boot.

To see the Tigers players, led by that man Burns, running, bouncing and springing for pure joy like a drunk Tigger on a trampoline in front of a shell-shocked audience, was priceless. In that moment, you suddenly saw these young men and fathers as young, dreaming school kids on mud-pit pitches. An 'I was there' moment for the gasping, breathless and predominantly-Tigers Twickenham crowd and a fitting way to end an incredible season. 

Read the full post-match report here. 

Chris Ashton set a new individual record & the the league set a new overall record

If there’s one thing we want as rugby fans, it’s plenty of tries to feast our eyes on and close, competitive  action for a full 80 minutes on the pitch. 

As the graph below shows, for the first time in Premiership history, there were over 1,000 tries scored across the season, creating a new record of 1,055. Even allowing for the expansion of the league to 13 teams, there was an average of 6.8 tries per game, more than double the 3.2 from just over a decade ago.

There was a new record number of tries and tries per game. If you instinctively thought that this increase in tries would be down to one-sided matches of teams running over the tryline for fun, you’d be wrong. There were a grand total of seven draws between sides with London Irish leading the way with five, including in both games against the other draw specialists, Sale Sharks. The Sharks started the season with a dramatic one-point victory, a game that was one of 69 Premiership matches that were within a converted try of being a different result (not taking into account bonus point ramifications). 

The grand result of all this was a Premiership season that was as equally thrilling as it was enthralling. It will no doubt be debated in pubs and terraces up and down the country but it’s certainly the best that I can remember. Whether it’s for the tries, a dose of post-COVID enjoyment in the stands or in the hope of your team having its own ‘Freddie Burnssssss’ moment, one thing that’s for sure is that we’ll all be eagerly counting down the days until the first kick of the new season in September. 

Bring it on, 2022-23! 

Pssst.... If, like us, you can't wait for the new season to begin and want to go to more games, more often, for less, then look no further. Join our community of like-minded supporters who host one another on their away trips for free here. 

Your Comments

Posted By

Host a Fan

Send Message View Profile