Aviva Premiership Rugby is the world’s most competitive domestic rugby union competition. The league is home to some of the most successful club sides in the history of rugby union and some of the biggest names in world rugby.
The origins of the Premiership date back to 1987, when the Courage Leagues were formed. This resulted in 1000 clubs that had previously only played friendlies and regional cup competition, being split into 108 leagues – each with promotion and relegation.
Bath and Leicester dominated the top of the league pyramid for the first ten years, with Wasps the only other side to be crowned champions in the first ten years. By 1997 the concept of professionalism was gaining momentum and the league began to evolve. Newcastle became the first of the “professional” clubs through heavy investment and in 1998 they were crowned champions.
Leicester then went on one of the greatest winning streaks in the history of rugby union. From 1999 to 2002 they were almost unstoppable as they claimed four consecutive titles, including a run of 57 wins at home that stretched from 30th December 1997 to 30th November 2002 and only losing 14 matches over the 4 seasons.
By the year 2000, the Premiership had developed into the most competitive club competition in the world. Play-offs and a wildcard were introduced and London Wasps played the competition format to perfection, peaking at the right time to be crowned English Champions in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
In the 2005/6 season Sale Sharks won their first ever Premiership Rugby title, then London Wasps beat Leicester Tigers the following season as the first ever sell-out crowd saw England legends Lawrence Dallagio and Martin Johnson make their final appearances. Leicester Tigers then won three straight titles as they defeated Gloucester Rugby, London Irish and Saracens.
At the end of the 2010-11 season, Saracens were crowned Premiership Rugby champions.