With just three games to go before the end of the Aviva Premiership league season, I take a look at those heading to the play-offs, and who will be playing who.

The play-off system was introduced for the 2002-3 season, but there were problems at the beginning, with the winner of the league phase playing the victor of a match between second and third.

In its first year, Gloucester finished top, but had to wait three weeks before playing the final.

London Wasps, who came second, beat Northampton to earn the chance to face Gloucester, and had the momentum and match fitness to defeat them and become champions.

The system was changed for the 2005-6 season, reverting to a Shaughnessy play off style, where first plays the fourth-placed side, and second take on third in the semi-finals.

Whilst only the top two teams from the league phase have ever become champions in this play-off system, on numerous occasions, clubs have finished just inside the top four and reached the Twickenham final.

In 2009, Leicester Tigers only just scraped into fourth place by a point, as they needed to win their last game and hope Sale Sharks lost.

They went onto narrowly beat table toppers Gloucester 26-25 in their semi-final before being beaten 26-16 by London Wasps in the season-ending final.


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Topics:
Aviva Premiership
Harlequins
Northampton Saints
Leicester Tigers
Saracens
Rugby Union