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Aviva A League benefits from longer season

The Aviva A League has gone from strength to strength as a result of running further into the season, believes Premiership Rugby’s Head of Academies and Development Mike Hynard.

Last year the league ran from September to January, whereas this season’s campaign did not start until November and will conclude on Bank Holiday Monday next week.

Northampton Wanderers and Exeter Braves will contest the showcase event at Sandy Park on Monday, after both the North and South pool winners won their respective home semi-finals.

"The feedback from clubs is that it is great to have the competition going in April and May to have something to play for through the year. It’s a format we will look to continue," said Hynard.

"I think this year has been a particularly tough year with the Rugby World Cup and Aviva Premiership Rugby and European fixtures being back to back.

"We thought it would be tough but I think it has been beneficial; it’s been good to give the players more game time.

"Next year, the majority will still be in September and October with a few games in December and January and we'll have the latter stages in April and May. I think it’s a format people are happy with."

Northampton Wanderers booked their place in the Aviva A League final by beating last year’s winners Saracens Storm 16-12 at Franklin’s Gardens.

Ben Nutley and Tom Kessell got the all-important tries for the hosts as Saracens’ scrum-half Ben Spencer kicked all of the Storm’s points.

Meanwhile more than 2,000 people were at Sandy Park for the second semi-final, and they weren’t disappointed as home side scored eight tries including a hat-trick for Namibian international Chrysander Botha.

Exeter Braves eventually ran out 48-15 victors over Newcastle Falcons, and will have home advantage in the final by virtue of scoring more tries during the pool stages.

"We have got two fantastically strong teams who will be playing in the final on Monday, and it will be fantastic to see how it pans out. I have no doubt it will be a tough contest," Hynard added.

"They are two strong teams I am excited to see them go up against each other I am expecting it to be a cracking final, there’s real quality on show.

"I think it’s no surprise that the two home semi-finalists have progressed to the final; it reflects their dominance through the pool stages.

"Obviously Saracens lost at Bristol United in the last pool game, which meant Exeter finished top and that turned everything around really."

Watch England's finest at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May from only £30 for adults & £15 for children. Click here for tickets

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