Here, we provide an overview of all the opening round games to get you all caught up with the action of the new Premiership season’s kick-off.
Leicester Tigers 38-15 Gloucester
Steve Borthwick had a quick riposte to the Leicester doubters who think he is the wrong man to lead the Tigers.
“I couldn’t care less what’s written,” he said after his team had posted an opening day win.
Borthwick’s blunt response showed a hard-nosed edge which will delight Leicester’s demanding fans.
His comments had been triggered by Austin Healey, the former Leicester and England back now working as a pundit.
Healey does not question Borthwick’s coaching ability but reckons he may be more suited to international teams than club rugby.
“He’s a robot, he’s a machine and he’s got an energy level and a desire that never lets up” Healey said.
“Thanks for letting me know,” Borthwick said about Healey’s comments. “I hardly read anything.”
He was far more interested in warning the fans that the victory was only “one small step” on a “journey” to rebuild.
Gloucester’s George Skivington praised Leicester and felt his own coaching team had to look at their part in the defeat.
“We did not look connected,” he admitted. “We have to look at how we prepared the team because we looked a bit rusty on the basic skill sets.”
He confirmed captain Lewis Ludlow had suffered a concussion injury in the first half but was “up and about” after the match.
Bath 12-19 Newcastle Falcons
Organisation was the key to victory for Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards.
“The thing you can’t be at this level, when you’re facing superstars, is disorganised,” said the Falcons boss.
“We’ve gone eight and a half months without a competitive game, and our battle-hardness was always going to be a little lacking as a result.
“We were at a disadvantage in that regard, but we knew that.
“We just said whatever happens on the day let’s give ourselves a chance by keeping our organisation. I thought our approach in that aspect was good.”
Former England centre Luther Burrell tweeted: “That’s the feeling I’ve craved for 18 months.
“Great effort and proud to make my Premiership debut for this club.”
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper denied his side were suffering a “hangover” from last month’s play-off defeat by Exeter.
“I just think it was a poor performance on the day,” he said.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s return to Sandy Park to face the Chiefs, he added: “We’ve got to do something about it and we will head to Exeter ready to go.
“This game will remain a huge disappointment until we get working again and get better from it.”
Wasps 23-20 Bristol Bears
Wasps head coach Lee Blackett said Jack Willis wanted to show in no uncertain terms that Eddie Jones was wrong to drop him from the England squad for their match against Ireland.
The flanker, who made a try-scoring debut for the national side against Georgia earlier this month, was left out of the reckoning for the clash at Twickenham and sent back to his club.
And Blackett aired after his side’s win the difficulties in getting the reintegration of international players right prior to a gameweek, but added that wasn’t the case with Willis’ unusual situation as he scored a try and earned the man of the match award.
“You’re always a bit concerned about internationals coming back,” said Blackett. “When you’ve got a lad like Jack, who texts you as soon as he finds out he’s left out and said ‘please can you put me in the team this week cause I want to rip in for the boys’, it’s pretty special.”
“It’s difficult isn’t it for Eddie at the moment, if he listens to everyone, what everyone’s saying in terms of the back row it’s no wonder he’s talking about hybrid players because you can’t fit them all in on the back row can you?
“So we’re very lucky in this country to have such quality, and they’re all young which is exciting. So one thing you’d have to say to start with is the two guys that have started in the back row for England have played really well in the last couple of years.”
“He (Willis) is not thinking obviously about potentially England training next week, he is thinking about Wasps and you’ve got to admire characters like that,” said Blackett.
“I had one decision, it was whether to play him. Look there is a decision, because you’ve got to see but when a lad like that and a quality player sends you a message like that and then you speak to him on the phone, you know.”
In a rematch of last season’s Premiership semi-final, Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam was frustrated to fall to defeat again at the Ricoh Arena and cited a need for better execution from his players.
“Unfortunately the executions, silly mistakes by individuals took the foot off the throttle on our attack, but I can’t fault the effort the boys put in there,” Lam said.
“I thought we could have won it but against Wasps you’ve got to go to the 80th minute and we had some key mistakes that allowed them to score that try at the end.
“We had a chance here again at the end, but you know it was a good start, unfortunately just one point, not the five that were on offer, but we will go again next week.”
Worcester Warriors 11-10 London Irish
Worcester’s director of Rugby, Alan Solomons, was a relieved man.
“I went through a lot of emotions out there but our mental resilience to get over the line pleased me the most.
“We played really well in the first half but I counted eight missed opportunities. We’ve got to be more clinical.”
Worcester’s captain, Ted Hill said: “It wasn’t pretty but the Irish defence was outstanding. They are a gritty team and we didn’t keep hold of the ball well enough but we kept on probing as we hoped that the dam would burst.
Irish skipper, Matt Rogerson said: “We are extremely disappointed as it’s important to win your first game and build up momentum.
“We were very resolute and weathered a lot of pressure but we are building blocks and definitely making progress.”
Irish’s director of rugby, Declan Kidney said: “In the first half we barely got out of our territory but our goal-line defence was excellent.
“The referee’s interpretation of the scrums was not helping us so I changed both props.
“In the second half we played a bit more but I’m not satisfied with a bonus point as I believe we should be winning games like that.”
Harlequins 3-33 Exeter Chiefs
PAUL Gustard admitted his side endured a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ at the hands of the clinical, merciless Premiership and European champions at The Stoop.
The disappointed Quins boss claimed: “The game was tight until the final ten minutes and we were still well in a real fight with them.
“Our defence had been outstanding for the majority of the game but, unfortunately, we didn’t stick to what we were trying to do and we saw what happened at the end.
“If you spend too much time in your own 22 against Exeter and give away penalties and give them the chance to apply pressure, it will be death by a thousand cuts.
“They are a tough team to break down but we lost crucial ball in the middle of the field and also the discipline battle. If you do that they will punish you.”
Delighted Rob Baxter enthused: “It would have been easy for the guys to use the short turnaround as an excuse but they turned up emotionally and physically.
“They hardly had time to celebrate winning the title because lockdown started shortly after the final.
“But now they can have a beer on the bus tonight knowing one job is done before moving on to the second one.”
Sale Sharks 32-23 Northampton Saints
Sale coach Steve Diamond, mindful that a win is a win, chose to accentuate the positive after a mixed performance.
“We came out of the blocks pretty well,” he said. “We worked on cooling their enthusiasm because everyone’s mak-ing a fresh start and they are a massive team. We did that really well and we raced into a lead, but we couldn’t build on it.
“There is plenty to work on moving forward. There is a little bit of frustration, but I’m not too harsh on them. It’s their first run-out and we haven’t been able to do too much contact under the Covid regulations. We have got to be chuffed with five points, but we have got to be better to challenge the top four.”
Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd, who confirmed he has signed a one-year contract extension until the summer of 2022, was far from downcast.
“We scrummed well, the lineout was good, the contest on the ball was pretty good and certainly that area was encouraging,” he said.
“You couldn’t say it was a lack of willingness or intent, it was just at times we weren’t accurate enough and lost some key moments. We were good across the board, without being brilliant.”