Premiership Rugby open to Twickenham switch for final

Simon Massie-Taylor, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, has revealed that the league is considering moving its final away from Twickenham after the London stadium’s hosting deal expires in 2024.

The league has held its showpiece match at Twickenham since 2003. The stadium is contracted to stage the final until 2024 as part of the Professional Game Agreement (PGA) between Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union.

Massie-Taylor is open to the possibility of relocating the Premiership final and is keen for the match to have more of an impact among UK sports fans. In an interview with the Guardian, Massie-Taylor also discussed the possibility of staging double-header semi-finals at neutral venues.

Currently, the top two teams from the regular season are given home advantage in the play-off semi-finals, with the winners of the respective ties progressing to the Twickenham final. Massie-Taylor cited other countries as examples for the Premiership to potentially follow.

France’s Top 14 final, for example, is traditionally held at the Stade de France but the league successfully staged its 2016 edition at the Camp Nou, home of Spanish LaLiga football club Barcelona. In 2024, the match will take place at Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome as the Stade de France will be unavailable due to Paris’ hosting of the Olympic Games. The Top 14 also stages neutral semi-finals.

This year’s Premiership final between Leicester Tigers and Saracens will be held at Twickenham on Saturday.

Massie-Taylor said: “We’re contractually obliged to stage (the final) at Twickenham but I think we need to have an open mind going forward in the next PGA. Should we be doing things like neutral semi-finals? Again, trying to (replicate) these bigger moments that certainly exist in other countries.

“I think we can do it and it’s not necessarily a case of, ‘everything is at Twickenham’. I think there’s a national footprint here and you need to think about the Brightons and the Leeds and various other areas. We just need to work out where the demand is and how quickly you can build it.”

He added: “The goal for the final is to try and make a national sporting moment, and I genuinely believe we can do it. There are a few things in the calendar where we have that established moment, the Grand National and Wimbledon, and we know there’s 10 million rugby fans knocking around, plus all the genuine sports fans who get attracted to big moments.

“You’ve got 10 million (rugby) fans in the UK, nine million are England fans and pretty much all of those will watch a game on ITV. Now it’s a pretty broad demographic of people. It’s about trying to create that national sporting moment. And so we talk about the Super Bowl, but what’s our version of it and how do we make it famous? So that’s the goal. And so we think we’ve got a big opportunity to make a big step on June 18.”

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