By Thomas Branston
The GK IPA Championship reaches its conclusion early for the 2016/17 regular season with London Irish leading the way into the playoffs.
Irish have taken The Championship by storm this season, losing only once in the league to Jersey Reds away from home on the 2 April.
It has been a tale of old with the relegated side from the Premiership being well equipped to bounce straight back and dominate the league, Worcester, London Welsh and others have managed this in recent years.
Despite Irish’s dominance, Ealing Trailfinders find themselves in dream situation having qualified for the playoffs after just avoiding relegation last season.
All four sides have already qualified for the last ever playoff system in the Championship, as the RFU have scrapped this format next season, and these sides are London Irish (1st), Yorkshire Carnegie (2nd), Ealing Trailfinders (3rd) and Doncaster Knights (4th).
Ealing currently sit in third, two points ahead of Doncaster, and the sides could swap positions dependant on results. With the final round fixtures we will see a taste of what to expect in the playoffs.
As it stands Irish would play Doncaster at the Madejski Stadium and Yorkshire would host Ealing, however despite playing the league leaders, Doncaster have home advantage to try and jump into third which would see them face Yorkshire rather than Irish in the playoffs.
At the other end of the table due to London Welsh’s liquidation and their fixtures being expunged, Rotherham Titans have already played their 20 fixtures and finish at the bottom of the table, but there is no relegation from the league this season.
Saturday 15 April –
Doncaster Knights vs London Irish (kick-off 3pm)
Cornish Pirates vs Bedford Blues (kick-off 3pm)
Jersey Reds vs Richmond (kick-off 3pm)
London Scottish vs Nottingham (kick-off 3pm)
Yorkshire Carnegie vs Ealing Trailfinders (kick-off 3pm)