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Record-breaking Premiership final to beef up security in bid to avoid Just Stop Oil repeat

A Just Stop Oil protestor spreads orange powder at last year's Premiership final
The Twickenham crowd booed and threw objects at Just Stop Oil protestors at last year's Premiership final - Getty Images/AFP

Twickenham security will be reinforced at rugby’s Premiership final with organisers eager to avoid a repeat of Just Stop Oil’s pitch invasion at last year’s showpiece.

Two men leapt over a barrier to release a cloud of orange paint on the pitch last year, but the Rugby Football Union are “all over” ensuring this weekend’s final between Northampton Saints and Bath is not interrupted.

This season’s Champions League final at Wembley was also targeted, with three men charged for storming the match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, but Telegraph Sport understands that rugby chiefs will deploy a special taskforce of plain clothes stewards among fans attending English rugby’s sold-out showpiece.

“Last year was regrettable,” said Premiership Rugby’s chief growth officer, Rob Calder. “We don’t want to encourage that and we are in close conversation. I just came off an operational call. The RFU are clearly responsible for anything that happens of that nature so they are all over it. Fingers crossed there won’t be anything like that again.

“There is RFU security. The RFU is dealing with that. They are very aware of the threat of something like that.”

When approached by Telegraph Sport, an RFU spokesperson said: “Our security arrangements are continually assessed and proportionate to the size and scale of event taking place at the stadium at any given time.”

This weekend’s final has sold out in record time, with filling Twickenham the season’s “mission” according to Premiership chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor. While there are no plans to move the final away from the home of English rugby, the league’s executives admit that neutral semi-finals could be a topic for exploration in the future.

“The mission has been to get to a really solid sell-out status of the final - and make that the pre-eminent event,” said Massie-Taylor. “Then we can work backwards to potentially expanding into neutral semis and bigger stadiums.”

Calder added: “A great experience, a great story, and we’re in a position now where we have a sold-out final. That was the brief from the clubs. When we previously talked about neutral semi-finals, the challenges are commercial: there is a significant advantage in having a home play-off. And the playing advantage to having this game at home is critical. We need to find a solution - if this is something we’re going to investigate - where we can deliver commercial value and an advantage to the home club.

“There were no sacred cows as far as where the final was for me but I am really encouraged by the support and commitment we have seen from the RFU to help us build towards consistent sell-outs. They want it at Twickenham, the game wants it at Twickenham so to take it elsewhere is going to be a pretty tough challenge. The support from the RFU to help us sell out and give us access to their audiences to promote the final is committed and they are delivering it.

“Sell outs are contagious, we must not rest on our laurels this week and think ‘this is fine, that is job done’. We have got to think about next year, catching that interest and pushing it to 2025. It is about keeping going and making the most of the momentum we have from the 2024 final.”

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