The Premiership Rugby Cup runs alongside Premiership Rugby and is seen as a great opportunity for teams to rotate their teams. As it is a different competition to the league, there can be confusion on the players involved.
Who can play in the Premiership Rugby Cup? Any player on a Premiership rugby team can play in the Premiership Rugby Cup. The competition is seen as a good opportunity to rotate players as many teams do not see it as a primary competition.
There can be some confusion over the rules of exactly who can play in the Premiership Rugby Cup. However, there are no rules as to who can play in the Premiership Rugby Cup. What usually happens in the competition is that the group stages are where teams like to rotate through their players and play a lot of academy prospects.
It is a great opportunity for these players to get some game time for the players who are not good enough to play in the Premiership. It is how a lot of players get their first start for their teams. Later on in the competition, teams may start to bring in more of the first-choice players as they are looking to win the competition.
If we look at last year’s winners, Worcester began the competition by only really playing their youth players. However, as they progressed in the competition they began to play more of the regulars. If we take a look at the final you can see a lot of players who would usually start.
The 2022 Prem Rugby Cup final featured current internationals like Albert Tuisue, Will Joseph and Henry Arundell. It also featured two British and Irish Lions, with Duhan van der Merwe starting the game and Rory Sutherland coming off the bench. It is a great example that teams do not play their starters until later in the competition.
There is another time when players will be used in the Premiership Rugby Cup. Quite often, teams will see it as a great way for a player returning from injury to get game-time minutes at a level slightly below that of the Premiership. Jake Polledri featured in some Prem Rugby Cup games for Gloucester this season on his way back from a major injury.
How does the Prem Rugby Cup work?
As it never really gets major coverage, the exact way that the Prem Rugby Cup works can be confusing. But the competition is actually pretty simple. It begins with a pool stage where the eleven teams are split into three pools, with pool 2 having one fewer team due to Worcester and Wasps going into administration.
It is a round robin in the group stage so everyone plays everyone. Once that has taken place, the team who finishes top of the group progresses through to the semi-final. The scoring in the group is the same as in the Premiership. It is four points for a victory, with the teams getting a bonus point if they score four tries in a game.
Teams do not get a point for losing, however they do get a losing bonus point if they lose by seven or fewer points. The team at the top of each group will progress to the semi-final as do the top-placed team in second. The three group winners and the highest total second-place team make up the semi-finals.
From there it is a simple knockout competition, with the semi-finals happening on the same weekend before the final takes place around the middle of March with the date not yet confirmed at the time of writing.
Prem Rugby Cup Final 2022
The most recent Premiership Rugby Cup Final took place in May of 2022 and it was contested between London Irish and Worcester Warriors. London Irish had heavily defeated Leicester Tigers in the semi-final, while Worcester were coming into the game off the back of a solid win over Gloucester.
London Irish had an advantage going into the game as the final was held at their home stadium, the Brentford Community Stadium. Both teams played very strong sides going into this game, both London Irish and Worcester featured current and former internationals in both their starting squad and on the bench.
It was Worcester who got off to the stronger start, with Matt Kvesic’s 12th-minute try giving them a 10-3 lead that was cut to one point after half an hour. The lead was completely gone when Ben White glided through the defence to tie the game at 13-13. The Warriors were able to head into the half with the lead despite another Paddy Jackson penalty.
With the clock in the red in the first half, Perry Humphreys scored out wide. Worcester thought they had extended their lead just after the half when Ted Hill galloped in from 60 metres out, but the try was ruled out after a knock-on was spotted in the build-up. The second half did not feature quite the same scoring, but Irish added three penalties to take their lead to seven.
Worcester piled on the pressure and still had the ball as the clock turned red. Kyle Hatherell was the difference maker as he burrowed across the line, with Fin Smith converting to take the game to extra time. Extra time was a tiring affair with neither side able to get a massive opportunity.
Worcester missed a penalty at the start of extra time, but London Irish missed two kicks in extra time. With the scores level as the clock went red, Worcester kicked the ball out as the game would be decided on who scored more tries. It meant that Worcester won the Premiership Rugby Cup thanks to scoring three tries in the game compared to London Irish’s one.
This was the clubs’ first major trophy in their history, having struggled to really make an impact on the Premiership and losing in their two European finals. It was a brilliant moment for the club and gave the fans something to cheer for not long before the clubs’ financial issues would come to a head.