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Friday, 14 July, 2000, 18:36 GMT
Premiership changes points format
Defending champions Leicester kick off against Wasps
Defending champions Leicester kick off against Wasps
A new points system has been introduced to the Premiership to encourage more attacking play next season.

The Super 12-style method and the introduction of an end-of-season Grand Final were unveiled with the publication of the provisional fixture list for the 2000/2001 season on Friday.

The Premiership will award a winning side four points, two points will be awarded for a draw, and one point will be dished out to a team if they lose by seven points or less.

A further point will go to a team that scores four tries or more.

English First Division Rugby chief executive Howard Thomas hailed the new points format as a winner.

The Premiership will adopt the Super 12 points system
The Premiership will adopt the Super 12 points system
"The Super 12 has a very exciting points system and if we see something which we can use to improve our own game then we should do so," he said.

"It will keep alive interest in games and should encourage teams to score more tries."

The move is undoubtedly influenced by the fact the league is currently without a sponsor, after Allied Dunbar's three-year association ended last season.

In an attempt to attract further corporate interest, the Premiership has also introduced an eight-team end-of-season play-off for a Heineken Cup place.

The top eight teams at the end of the league season will play over three weeks with a Grand Final at Twickenham - the winners qualifying for the Cup spot.

On hold

The top four teams will be at home to clubs placed fifth to eight, although the remaining Heineken Cup berths will be decided through final league placings.

Meanwhile plans to introduce a British Cup have been put on hold.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron said: "The discussions regarding the British Cup will continue in the forthcoming months involving all relevant parties.

"We acknowledged in April it would be logistically difficult to introduce a British Cup in the new season and it has not been practical to do so."

The list of fixtures announced for next season sees defending champions Leicester travelling to Wasps for an opening day clash, while Premiership new boys Rotherham are at home to Bristol.

The precise dates for the fixtures will be issued on 21 July.

Fixtures (first four weeks only):

19 August
Sale v Bath
Saracen v Gloucester
Wasps v Leicester
Harlequins v London Irish
Newcastle v Northampton
Rotherham v Bristol

26 August
Bristol v Saracens
Gloucester v Sale
Wasps v Bath
Harlequins v Rotherham
Newcastle v Leicester
Northampton v London Irish

2 September
Bath v Harlequins
Leicester v Northampton
London Irish v Saracens
Wasps v Bristol
Rotherham v Gloucester
Sale v Newcastle

5 September
Bristol v Sale
Leicester v Rotherham
London Irish v Bath
Newcastle v Gloucester
Northampton v Harlequins
Saracens v Wasps

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