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New campaign excites Venter

The new Aviva Premiership season was launched at Twickenham on Thursday with some bold predictions that this will be the greatest ever campaign.

Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter declared rugby "has never been in a better position to become a spectacle" and his position was backed by colleagues around the Premiership.

In March, Premier Rugby and the Rugby Football Union agreed to tinker with the breakdown laws in favour of the attacking side, and Venter said: "We will see a great product from all teams. All the sides are so talented. Look at how Bath play the game. Look at Sale with Charlie Hodgson or Harlequins with Nick Evans. It is going to be a wonderful spectacle."

He added: "Globally, the referees are getting it right. They have found the key to making rugby a great game to watch."

Venter's views were supported by Bath head coach Steve Meehan, who said: "I am sure the Premiership will start well. Rugby is in a position to deliver, not just because of the interpretations but because they have come in a year before the World Cup."

There remains a debate about whether tinkering with the laws to create a more "entertaining" product is the right thing for rugby - but the statistics back up the general sense of positivity.

The average number of tries jumped from 2.8 to 4.4 - an increase of 57% - after the law interpretations were changed, and every other attacking statistic also improved.

"All we are doing is getting back to where we were pre-ELVs which puts into context what the downwards trend had been following that failed experiment," said Premier Rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty.

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