STATEMENT: RFU ‘very aware’ of protest threat ahead of Premiership final at Twickenham - Ruck

STATEMENT: RFU ‘very aware’ of protest threat ahead of Premiership final at Twickenham

The Gallagher Premiership final organisers are on high alert for potential pitch invasions at Twickenham this weekend.

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Table-toppers Northampton Saints are set to clash with Bath on Saturday at the iconic home of English rugby, marking the league’s quickest sell-out in history.

Last year’s final between Saracens and Sale was disrupted by an Extinction Rebellion protester, and just last week, three people were charged following pitch invasions at the Champions League final at Wembley.

“Last year was regrettable,” Rob Calder, the organisation’s chief growth officer, said ahead of the final.

JUST STOP OIL PROTESTERS ON THE PITCH and is removed by Tom Curry of Sale Sharks during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Saracens and Sale Sharks at Twickenham Stadium on 27 May 2023. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“We don’t want to encourage that and we are in close conversation, well in advance of this week and the next few days.

“The RFU are clearly responsible for anything that happens of that nature so they are all over it so fingers crossed there won’t be anything like that again. 

“RFU security are dealing with that. They are very aware of the threat of something like that.”

The RFU said that its security operations are “continually assessed and proportionate to the size and scale of event taking place at the stadium at any given time”.

Nigel Owens Reveals the Top 5 Rugby Stadiums with the Best Atmosphere

Legendary referee Nigel Owens has handpicked three stadiums where he experienced the most electrifying atmospheres during his career, surprisingly omitting his beloved Principality Stadium in Cardiff from the list.

However, Owens prefaced his ranking with an explanation:

“It doesn’t really matter what game is taking place at the Principality Stadium, there is just something special about it. It’s the way it’s built, where it is, the atmosphere that those factors combine to generate.

“Judgement Day is great, European Cup matches there are the same and obviously top internationals are on another level. To me, that is the best stadium in the world but I will leave that out of my selections below because I am, of course, Welsh and maybe a little biased!”

Explore his entire top five below

#5. Stade de France, Paris

The first of the international grounds on our list of the best stadiums in world rugby, the atmosphere in Stade de France mirrors their national team: boisterous and joyful when on the front foot, but quiet and frail when behind.

Owens wrote: “When you’re inside the Stade de France it’s an incredible stadium.

“The atmosphere is up there with the best and I absolutely loved refereeing there but the actual location of the stadium is not the best, there isn’t a lot going on around it, it’s the total opposite to Cardiff in many ways.”

He added: “I did the 2018 game here when Johnny Sexton kicked a 45 metre drop goal after 46 phases to win the match and set Ireland on their way to a Grand Slam that year. France had scored the only try of the match to take the lead in the 72nd minute and the crowd were going crazy, it was so loud and La Marseillaise was being sung.

“But Ireland were just relentless in that closing passage leading to the drop goal. People talk about the pressure on Sexton, well they want to know what it’s like refereeing at that stage of a match! You know any decision you make is probably going to decide the outcome. You can’t afford to get it wrong.

“But that stadium is absolutely rocking when France are hitting their straps. A special place to referee.”

#4. Thomond Park, Limerick

Owens wrote: “For me, few things beat Thomond Park on a European Cup weekend. That is an experience that should be on every rugby fan’s bucket list. When there are 28,000 in there for games against the likes of Toulouse, Leicester or Clermont – all of which I’ve refereed there – then it doesn’t half take some beating.”

He added: “Refereeing Leinster v Munster in Dublin was one thing, but refereeing the same fixture at Thomond Park is something else entirely. It was a very difficult game to referee because of the intensity of the crowd and the players responding to that.

“When you are in that stadium and all those thousands of supporters are singing Fields of Athenry, it really is breathtaking.”

Credit: Karmacomatic