- Ask Steven
An unwanted recordJohn GriffithsMay 20, 2014
Has any side finished the English top-flight with a worse record than Worcester's this year? John Stevens, England
Worcester avoided a blank sheet, but since the Leagues officially began in 1988-89, five teams have finished bottom of the top flight by losing every game they have played.
In that inaugural season Sale lost all 11 games played, a "record" equalled two years later by Bedford. In 1990-91, the top flight was enlarged to 13 clubs and Liverpool St Helens went down with an unwanted P 12 L 12 record to their name.
The most unusual situation was seen in 1995-96 when, with home and away fixtures an established part of the set-up, West Hartlepool lost all 18 of their games. They escaped relegation, however, because a reorganisation of the top flight saw the number of clubs participating raised from ten to 12.
The most recent side to lose all of its Premiership games was Rotherham in 2003-04.
Arguably the tightest relegation battle was in 1995 when Northampton went down. They finished with 12 tournament points at a time when there were only two for a win, one for a draw and no bonus points on offer. In fact, only four points separated the team finishing fourth (Sale) and the Saints, who were unlucky to have their England RWC players unavailable for two of their last four League fixtures.
John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.