TOP BAR - Fixtures

Jacob Rowan, Billy Vunipola, Christian Wade and Jeremy Thrush star in OPTA Rugby Rankings

Saracens No.8 Billy Vunipola was back to his rampaging best in his club’s crucial Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over Bath Rugby at Allianz Park, getting through a mountain of work in a 53-10 win to top this week’s OPTA Rugby Rankings.

Vunipola’s tally of 25 carries was the second best in a single match this season with Thomas Waldrom – who leads the carry count overall – making 28 against Saracens.

Vunipola made six more carries than any other player in Round 18, and also beat five defenders, with Bristol Rugby’s Jack Lam and Harlequins’ Danny Care both making 19 carries apiece.

Christian Wade was the star of the show at the Ricoh Arena as his two tries proved to be the difference between his Wasps side and Worcester Warriors as they played out a pulsating encounter in Coventry.

Wade made 157 metres throughout the 40-33 bonus-point win, which helped his side maintain their position at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.

Harlequins also enjoyed a winning bonus-point in their 53-17 victory over Newcastle Falcons at the Twickenham Stoop – the first time they have secured back to back bonus-point wins since December 2015.

Winger Tim Visser and fullback Mike Brown made over 130 metres each to feature in the OPTA top three for metres made in Round 18.

But neither Brown nor Visser could match Wade’s impressive tally of 12 defenders beaten in Round 18, which equalled the Aviva Premiership record since OPTA began recording data in 2008/09.

Chris Ashton, who scored a double in Saracens’ victory, also impressed the crowds by beating seven defenders in a thrilling encounter.

In Round 18’s opening fixture, Gloucester Rugby wrapped up a 32-14 victory over Bristol at Ashton Gate, but were made to do their fair share of defending as is reflected in the statistics.

Back row Jacob Rowan made an incredible 25 tackles – seven more than any other player in Round 18 – in a brave defensive display from the Cherry and Whites.

Rowan’s tally against Bristol takes him up to 200 for the season, which is just two short of leader Mark Wilson of Newcastle Falcons.

Exeter Chiefs extended their unbeaten run to 11 games (including nine wins and two draws) with a 30-25 victory over Sale Sharks at Sandy Park.

Kai Horstmann scored a try for the Chiefs as well as making three crucial turnovers for his side, which put him top of the OPTA Ratings for Round 18.


Jacob Rowan (Gloucester Rugby) – 25

Alex Rieder (Wasps), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons), Michael Fitzgerald (Leicester Tigers), Cameron Neild (Sale Sharks) – 18


Billy Vunipola (Saracens) – 25

Jack Lam (Bristol Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins) – 19

Metres made

Christian Wade (Wasps) – 157

Tim Visser (Harlequins) – 134

Mike Brown (Harlequins) – 133

Defenders Beaten

Christian Wade (Wasps) – 12

Mike Brown (Harlequins) – 9

Chris Ashton (Saracens) – 7

Lineouts won

Jeremy Thrush (Gloucester Rugby), Christopher Vui (Worcester Warriors) – 8

James Horwill (Harlequins), Tom Savage (Gloucester Rugby), Jim Hamilton (Saracens) – 7

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.

Latest News

Toby Flood starts for Newcastle Falcons against Rotherham Titans

Toby Flood makes the first start of his second spell at Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they host Rotherham Titans…

Joe Marler commits to Harlequins until 2021

Harlequins is thrilled to announce today, Friday 18th August, that England and British and Irish Lions prop, Joe Marler, has…

Joe Marler

European fixtures to be released on Tuesday

The fixtures for the 2017/18 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season will be announced on Tuesday, 22 August at 3.00pm…

Rokoduguni starts for Bath Rugby against Ospreys

Semesa Rokoduguni will make his first appearance of pre-season when Bath Rugby take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on…

Harlequins team to play Jersey Reds

Harlequins has announced the squad to play Jersey Reds in the final match of the 2017/18 pre-season campaign, at The…

Francis Saili

Stringer starts for Worcester Warriors at Birmingham Moseley

Summer signing Peter Stringer will get his first start for Warriors on Friday night as his side take on Birmingham…

London Irish name side for Ealing Trailfinders clash

London Irish have named a 30-man squad for this Friday’s pre-season clash with Ealing Trailfinders at Hazelwood (kick-off 7.30pm). The…

Gloucester Rugby announce line-ups for preseason friendly at Leinster

Gloucester Rugby will give game time to a number of their first team squad in Leinster on Friday evening as…

American rugby players and coaches to get once in a lifetime opportunity

Thirty American rugby players and coaches are being handed the chance of a lifetime to train in England with Premiership…

Stephen Myler: Northampton Saints ready to fight for the title

Stephen Myler is predicting the closest ever Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and believes his Northampton Saints side will be right…

Sonatane Takulua expecting big things from Newcastle Falcons this season

Sonatane Takulua believes unity and a collective purpose, combined with an improved playing pool, can help propel Newcastle Falcons up…

Sonatane Takulua

Wasps name team for first pre-season fixture against Ulster

Dai Young has named a 26-man squad to take on Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season fixture…

Anglo-Welsh Cup 2017-18 launched

WORCESTER WARRIORS have the honour of hosting the opening match in this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday 3 November, when…

Leicester Tigers win the Anglo Welsh Cup

Ally Hogg pleased by Newcastle Falcons’ early progress

Ally Hogg believes Newcastle Falcons are well set to attack the new Aviva Premiership season after a double dose of…

Ally Hogg

Topsy Ojo relishing Exiles return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action at HQ

Topsy Ojo believes there could be no more fitting way for London Irish to announce their return as an Aviva…

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua sees Philadelphia trip as a ‘great opportunity’

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua insists his side’s September clash with Saracens in Philadelphia will be no holiday for the players,…

Sonatane Takulua

Harlequins statement: Luke Wallace and Jonas Mikalcius

Harlequins can confirm today (Tuesday 15th August) that flanker Luke Wallace dislocated his hip during the pre-season friendly against London…

Luke Wallace

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

London Irish will host Bath Rugby at the Madejski Stadium in the opening round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday…

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

HITZ graduate secures first full time job after being inspired by Premiership Rugby final

A teenager from Leigh who overcame a troubled home life and tackled confidence and communication issues thanks to Premiership Rugby…

Lucy Neal