Now in it’s second season, the Play-Off system has won plenty of plaudits, starting with last season’s Grand Final winners the Ospreys.
It might come as no surprise seeing as the Liberty Stadium outfit were the immediate beneficiaries of the new system, but Sean Holley and Tommy Bowe were full of praise for the introduction of the Play-Off system after their inaugural Grand Final triumph over Leinster last May.
Head coach Holley and star wing Bowe believe the format has added to the excitement for players, coaches and supporters alike and that assessment has been widely supported by their counterparts from the other Magners League clubs.
The Ospreys finished second in the regular Magners League standings last term before disposing of Glasgow Warriors at the semi-final stages and then beating table toppers Leinster in Dublin in a thrilling finale to the domestic season.
That 17-12 triumph at the RDS was a great spectacle for the league, with the game played in front of a packed house and in a great atmosphere.
And Holley, who has tasted Magners League success in the traditional league format on two previous occasions in 2005 and 2007, says the Play-Offs have made this particular success even more special.
“The occasion this year was fabulous,” said Holley, after the Ospreys became the first-ever winners of the Grand Final six months ago.
“These players are now used to playing in front of big crowds and they responded – both sets of players.
“As a spectacle, it’s fantastic. A lot of credit has to go to the Play-Off system. I think it’s worked really well. It was fitting for us to have to come to Dublin and win.
“The Magners League is getting harder to win year on year. Ourselves and Leinster lose a lot of players during the international window and we have to play games. With two Italian teams coming in now, we’re clearly going to face that even more. It gives us an opportunity at the end of the season to really push for the title.”
Tommy Bowe says the Play-Off system adds extra excitement
Like Holley, Bowe had also tasted Magners League glory, heping Uster claim the Celtic crown in 2006.
And while that title with his hometown province still means an awful lot, Bowe insists that the Magners League has come on leaps and bounds in the years between his two triumphs.
The Ireland and Lions star believes the Play-Offs have been a key part of that progression and will continue to be so as the league grows in stature.
“It’s a great finish to the Magners League,” said Bowe, who has scored more tries than any other player in Magners League history.
“I’ve been playing Magners League rugby for a few years and I’ve really felt that this year, with the semi-final and the final, has been a great climax. It’s been an extra two games obviously as part of a long season but it’s a great finish.
“To come to the RDS, where Leinster have such a great track record, there’s obviously going to be a lot of nerves going out there. We knew we were under the cosh with such great vocal support for Leinster but we settled in early and played some good rugby.”