Premiership Rugby has confirmed the launch of the Premiership Rugby Shield competition that replaces the A League tournament ahead of the 2018/19 season.
The Premiership Rugby A League was launched in 2003 and it is Northampton Wanderers, who won the title in the last two seasons and will be looking to claim a hat-trick.
The new Premiership Rugby Shield tournament has two conferences of six teams each with the fixtures expected to be announced in due course of time.
Rugby director of Premiership Rugby Phil Winstanley is looking forward to the Shield competition and is confident of the tournament helping the young talents prepare for the senior level.
"It gives us an opportunity with a new name and a revitalised brand to help play a crucial role in the development of our young players.
"It’s really important that players are developing inside the clubs themselves, there’s always a chance to go out on loan and learn their trade in a different environment but equally it’s important to be competing in a club shirt and in a club environment and this year gives them the opportunity to do that.
"I say it’s very important that players develop within a club environment, that people grow up in an environment, see first-team players around and feel affiliated to the shirt and the club brand.
"From that perspective I feel it’s absolutely vital as a connection from the youth systems up into the senior programme and beyond."
Winstanley is also expecting high competitiveness and a gripping season in the upcoming edition.
"I think it will be a higher profile competition this year and that will add an edge to things, I suspect we’ll see some very strong teams put out and therefore stronger competition.
"We’ve seen some fantastic opportunities for the England players out in the World Rugby Under-20s Championship, playing in front of considerable crowds, that’s all part of the education process and we hope to continue it."
Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the world...it can only be the Gallagher Premiership.
12 teams compete in the league over a season, playing every team both home and away, before four move into the playoffs and one is relegated.
The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?
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