SUMMER 2011WWW.ESSENTIALLYGROUP.COMRUGBY UPDATEThis year's Six Nations saw England continue where they left off from the Autumn Tests as they were crowned tournament champions with only Ireland preventing an England Grand Slam in the final game of the competition. France and Ireland finished second and third respectively after both teams failed to meet expectations with a couple of lacklustre performances that ultimately cost them dear. Wales also had a mediocre campaign that could have been a lot different had they managed to get over the line in some very close encounters. Scotland failed to show the kind of progression they had done in 2010 finishing fifth, while Italy won the wooden spoon despite pulling off the performance of the tournament to beat France 22-21 in a thriller at the Stadio Flaminio. Essentially would like to congratulate all clients that featured in this year's tournament.The end of May signalled the finale of the European club season. The Aviva Premiership final proved to be a tight affair with Saracens claiming their first ever Premiership title, defeating Leicester 22-18. The final was a fitting contest given that both of these teams had occupied the top two spots after the regular season had climaxed. After a relegation battle that went down to the last minute of the final league match, it was confirmed that Leeds will be playing Championship rugby next season with Worcester taking their place in English Rugby's top tier. Our congratulations go to Jimmy Gopperth (Golden Boot) and Tom Johnson (Performance of the Season) who picked up gongs at this season's Aviva Premiership Awards. A special mention must also go to Thomas Waldrom who was named the RPA Players' ACTION IMAGES Player of the Year.
Irish heavyweights Munster and Leinster battled it out for the Magners League title. Again, the two top teams from the regular season standings prevailed and it is was Munster who were victorious at Thomond Park. Elsewhere in the Magners League the Ospreys and Ulster reached the semi-finals while Benetton Treviso will see their 10th place as a success in their debut season. Many Essentially clients impressed in this season's competition, most notably Ruan Pienaar (Magners League Player of the Season), Isa Nacewa (IRUPA Players' Player of the Year) and Richardt Strauss (IRUPA Nokia Unsung Hero). We also extend our congratulations to Dan Biggar who was this season's highest points scorer in the Magners League with 248. The Amlin Challenge Cup final promised to be a fantastic spectacle with two sides known for their running rugby going head to head. Harlequins eventually managed to narrowly beat Stade Francais at Cardiff City Stadium thanks to a last minute touchline conversion from Essentially's Nick Evans.The following day saw the Millennium stadium welcome Northampton Saints and Leinster in a mouth-watering encounter to decide who will be crowned champions of Europe. Leinster produced a fantastic second half display to beat Northampton 33-22, giving them their second Heineken Cup title in three years while Saints were unlucky to end the season without any silverware. We would like to congratulate all our clients who appeared in these games.With club's recruitment for 2011/2012 coming to a close, Essentially are looking forward to seeing all clients with new clubs testing themselves at pastures new. Here are a few to whet the appetite.Bakkies Botha will join Toulon's all-star roster, Nathan Hines is heading back to France's Top 14 with Clermont whilst Saints have snapped up England Saxons star Noah Cato and former England international Tom May.An interesting few months lie ahead with the Rugby World Cup just around the corner. We hope that the numerous Essentially clients heading to New Zealand have a great tournament and enjoy what is the pinnacle of any rugby player's career.ACTION IMAGES