Bounce back Bristol better prepared this time around
WASPS scrum-half Craig Hampson believes former club Bristol provide a fine example as to why the Premiership should not be ring-fenced.
Hampson spent two seasons at Ashton Gate before joining Wasps and will feature against his former club when they visit the Ricoh Arena on Sunday in the Premiership Cup. The 28-year-old was part of the Bristol squad that missed out on promotion in 2015 when Worcester claimed a 59-58 aggregate play-off victory.
Bristol have since been promoted twice from the Championship either side of a relegation in 2016/17 - but are much better placed to survive this time around having recruited heavily to bring in the likes of former Wasps star Charles Piutau. However, concerns over the financial impact of clubs who fall out of the top tier of English rugby lead to calls for promotion and relegation to be scrapped. Something Hampson is not in favour of.
“I don’t think we need to ringfence the Premiership. I know the [Championship] playoffs were good for TV, but I think as a club, obviously I was in there twice, we were expected to go up. That season-long thing when you dominate the league then it comes down to one game, or 10 minutes at the end of one game, it’s pretty difficult. Now if a team dominates the league, they’re going to go up. I think that’s a good way to do it. There’s still relegation and it still makes the Premiership super competitive, even down at the bottom there’s big games. “It’s a huge step up. I think it’s the intensity and every week’s a big game, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing. You can be top of the table, and you can be playing bottom of the table and it’s still a big game in the Premiership.
“Whereas in the Championship you only play three or four big games every season.
“That step up of, week in week out turn up and having to play big games is the big step up. Obviously last year they had a much stronger squad than they have done in the past. I think they’ve kept on to that and then added more to that as well and I think they’ve added more players to that as well. I think they’ve gone pretty well this year so far.”
Bristol’s return to the top table of English rugby started with the euphoria of an opening-night win against Bath. But this was followed up by four defeats in five games with Bristol conceding more points than any Premiership club along the way.