English Premiership rugby is known the world over for its hard, gritty nature; where players take to the field in clean kit and leave almost indistinguishable from each other, their bodies layered in mud, sweat and blood after a tough, grinding affair.
Since 1987, the team that boasts the most Premiership titles has been Leicester Tigers.
The origins of the nickname “tigers” are unclear. It is thought in some circles that it comes from the club’s original chocolate and yellow coloured kit, however, it also may have grown out of the link with the Leicestershire Regiment who were know as “tigers” after serving in India.
The club, formed on 3 August 1880 and the result of a merger between Leicester Societies AFC, Leicester Amateur FC and Leicester, has risen as one of the most successful clubs in Europe, with 20 major titles under the belt, including two European Championships (2001 & 2002), ten English Premierships and eight Anglo-Welsh Cups.
The root of Leicester’s success lies in its vibrant academy which employs around 40 coaches on the ground who are able to nurture talent in and around world-class facilities.
Dave Wilks, academy manager: “We are very selective. There are certain challenges here, certain demands, that suit players and would rule out other players. They’ve got to be able to commit to the program, to commit to what we’re asking them to do. They’ve got to be tough, they’ve got to be committed. They’ve got to have the physical ability or skill potential to play the game at the top level“.
“I didn’t really understand what it [Leicester] meant until I joined the academy and understood the history and tradition of the shirt you wear.” senior XV tighthead prop Joe Heyes said.
“You’ve got a lot of young talent coming through. They have three years in the academy to learn the trade of the club. It’s about being tough mentally and physically.” said Manu Tuilagi, Leicester and England centre.
Leicester have struggled somewhat this season, occupying 11th spot on the table before the tournament was put on ice due to COVID-19. However, it is clear that their foundations stand them in good stead for success for many years to come.