Premiership regular season: How the clubs fared

1st: LEICESTER W 16 D 1 L 5 TRIES FOR 67 TRIES AGAINST 29 PTS 78

Position last season: First - Champions (beat Saracens in final)

Highlights: The try kings of the regular season - Tigers crossed their opponents' line 67 times and ended just shy of 600 points from 22 games.

Lowlights: Tigers showed uncharacteristic signs of fallibility at home. The defeat at home to Saracens and the astonishing 41-41 draw with Gloucester at Welford Road , a record score against Tigers in a home league game, will give their play-off rivals hope.

Player of the season: Thomas Waldrom - the man some saw as a back-up signing for Jordan Crane, proved from the outset what a shrewd acquisition he was. Finished the regular season as the competition's top ball-carrier.  Craig Newby will be many fans' man of the season, while Anthony Allen is another contender.

Discovery of the season: Manu Tuilagi has been brutal and brilliant at outside centre in his debut season. After concerns over his visa were resolved last summer , the youngest in a long line of Tuilagi Tigers never stopped smiling and often overshadowed his hugely talented midfield partner Allen. Odds on to pick up Premiership discovery of the year award. 

Future prospects: Much depends on what happens in the play-offs and, possibly, the final, but Tigers are believed to have made more astute signings for next season. Newcastle prop Kieran Brookes  and scrum-half Micky Young  , Worcester's England Saxons lock Graham Kitchener  and mercurial England back Mathew Tait  are all thought to be heading to Welford Road.

2nd: SARACENS W 18 D 0 L 4 TRIES FOR 35 TRIES AGAINST 26 PTS 76

Saracens congratulate dave Strettle

Saracens will fancy their chances in the play-offs

Last season: 3rd - lost to Leicester in play-off final.

Highlights: Sarries won more games than anyone in the competition - including eight away - with their pragmatic style that was executed brilliantly. Their line-out was peerless  and while their game is not to everyone's taste, they know how to get results. The 15-14 win at Welford Road in March   - Leicester's only home defeat - was a huge psychological blow to their big rivals, and they also won at Bath, Northampton, Wasps and Harlequins.

Lowlights: The defeat by Exeter  in October was the only blight on an otherwise perfect home record, while the 33-16 loss to London Irish   in the Twickenham double header on opening-day was not their finest hour. Brendan Venter's resignation  was a blow but only because it removed him from the everyday inner workings of the club. Maintained regular contact with the club from his home in South Africa and returned to be present for games after his departure.

Player of the season: Probably the most difficult pick, not just because of Sarries' rotation policy but because there was so much quality on show. Up front last year's player's player of the season Schalk Brits   was every bit as good, Carlos Nieto was the rock of Sarries' powerful pack, Mouritz Botha and Ernst Joubert are also strong contenders. In the backs Brad Barritt and Alex Goode would make many peoples' teams of the season. In the end Joubert sneaks it for his consistent brilliance and ability to read games.

Discovery of the season: Owen Farrell. Sarries looked to Goode early in the season  to take up the fly-half mantle but it was Farrell who made the number 10 jersey his own and looked totally at home. A class act with a bright future ahead of him.

Future prospects: Many people's favourites  to finally end Leicester's stranglehold on the title after last year's heartbreak in the final  . Saracens are pressing ahead with their plans for a new home at Barnet's Copthall Stadium  . The arrival of Charlie Hodgson from Sale will add to their attacking game and the rumoured arrival of Springbok skipper John Smit   will give them an embarrassment of riches in the front row.

3rd: GLOUCESTER W 14 D 1 L 7 TRIES FOR 58 AGAINST 43 PTS 67

Last season: Seventh

Highlights: Unbeaten at home in the Premiership and just three defeats in 13 after Christmas helped Gloucester secure a play-off semi-final after a shaky start to the season against Exeter. Their thrilling 41-41 draw at Leicester and 27-15 defeat of Northampton were probably only eclipsed by the 18-3 defeat of Bath   to claim only their second Premiership win at the Rec.

Lowlights: Injuries deprived Gloucester of some of their most potent talents for long periods. Premiership regular season: How the clubs fared  Club captain Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel, Jim Hamilton, Olly Morgan, Brett Deacon and Lesley Vainikolo all suffered setbacks.

Player of the season: Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu. The Samoan was a creative tour de force for the Cherry and Whites. A real handful for any opposition, it seems unthinkable he may not feature in the World Cup this autumn.  Notable mentions go to Paul Doran-Jones, Nicky Robinson and a resurgent Luke Narraway.

Discovery of the season: Charlie Sharples - electric pace and sparkling performances mean Sharples is sure to inherit Simpson-Daniel's crown as the Shed's favourite flyer. Henry Trinder, Jonny May and Freddie Burns continued their promising progress.

Future prospects: Bryan Redpath has committed his future  and has shown his judgement is trustworthy, but younger players like Burns and Trinder will need to keep improving if the Cherry and Whites are going to remain a top-four side. Nicky Robinson   could be a big loss. England duo Paul Doran-Jones  and Dave Attwood,   Jordi Pasqualin  and Alasdair Dickinson are all on their way out. Dario Chistolini  , Dan Murphy,   and Nick Runciman   are all incoming. The future of veteran front rows Pierre Capdevielle and shed legend Olivier Azam   are uncertain. Gloucester's tight budget and small squad mean stability will be the watchword next term.

4th: NORTHAMPTON W 14 D 0 L 8 TRIES FOR 58 AGAINST 38 PTS 65

Last season: Second - lost in play-offs to Saracens.

Wood a 'worthy winner' - Mallinder

Highlights: Saints hope that the highlights of the season are still to come, with a Premiership play-off semi-final against Leicester at Welford Road, and the Heineken Cup final against Leinster in Cardiff.

Lowlights: Six consecutive Premiership defeats at the start of 2011 threatened to completely derail their domestic campaign and ultimately cost them a top-two finish in the table.

Player of the season: Brian Mujati  - ousted Scotland international and British and Irish Lion Euan Murray from Saints  . Superb in the tight and immense in the loose, he firmly established himself as a cult hero at the Gardens. Lee Dickson and Soane Tonga'uiha, Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Dylan Hartley all run him close.

Discovery of the season: Tom Wood - Worcester fans were well aware of the talent they lost when their back-row starlet opted to leave Sixways last season but Wood's progress at Saints has seen him establish himself as a bona fide international flanker. Little wonder Jim Mallinder wanted to tie him down with an extended deal a year before his current one was due to end.

Future prospects: Saints have a strong squad core but have suffered from international call-ups and Jim Mallinder has given clear signals of reviewing their recruitment policy in light of this. The arrival of Noah Cato  , ex-Blues centre George Pisi,  Toulon's Tom May, Ryan Lamb from Irish and Martin Roberts from Scarlets  will help cover for internationals and replace outgoing players. England prop Paul Doran-Jones  faces stiff competition for starts in a fine Saints front row when he arrives from Gloucester.

5th: BATH W 13 D 1 L 8 TRIES FOR 38 TRIES AGAINST 34 PTS 62

Last season: Fourth - lost in semi-finals

Exiles win was turning point - McGeechan

Season Highlights: A run of 10 wins out of 13 after Christmas secured a Heineken Cup place for next season. The 38-8 victory over Northampton on 19 Feb at the Rec was a particular highlight.

Season lowlights: The 18-3 defeat by Gloucester at home on 1 October that saw them lose Lewis Moody with an eye injury and sent them on a run of four losses and a draw. The loss of Olly Barkley  at the start of March badly affected Bath's run-in.

Player of the season: Nick Abendanon. Showed the heart of a lion, and scant disregard for his own well-being, with the battering he took against Leicester at the Rec   and was superb against Wasps at Twickenham. Michael Claassens and Matt Banahan are also up there.

Discovery of the season: Premiership A league' s top scorer Jacques Boussuge showed a taste of things to come in his first-team outings on the wing.

Future prospects: Sir Ian McGeechan will be expected to work his magic next season when he takes control of team selection following the depature of head coach Steve Meehan  . The exit of South African skipper Luke Watson has been dealt with by the signing of Stormers flanker Francois Louw  and everyone is waiting to see who Bath bring in to replace fly-half Butch James.  Will it be Dan Carter?  Matt Banahan's late-season switch to inside centre is another string to the big man's bow and may provide some insight into Geech's thinking for the future. Bath will be hoping league convert Kyle Eastmond  has as much of an impact on the 15-man code as his cross-code predecessor Jason Robinson.

6th: LONDON IRISH W 11 D 0 L 11 TRIES FOR 47 AGAINST 41 PTS 54

Last season: Sixth

Highlights: The Exiles were riding high at the top of the table before Christmas before a run of seven Premiership defeats in nine games between the end of November and the start of March saw them dramatically fall off the pace.

Lowlights: Failure to improve on last season's placing after the early promise. Delon Armitage's two suspensions   will not be something Irish or the player himself will want to dwell on.

Player of the season: Alex Corbisiero gets the nod for his international breakthrough - honourable mentions to Dan Bowden and the departing Seilala Mapusua. 

Discovery of the season: James Gibson  - second-year classics undergraduate was immovable at blind-side flanker after coming into the side.

Future prospects: Bath's Shontayne Hape and Northampton's Joe Ansboro will form a new midfield partnership next season. Steffon Armitage's future at the Madejski is still not clear but Leeds' talismanic flanker Hendre Fourie is already being linked with a summer move.

7th: HARLEQUINS W 9 D 2 L 11 TRIES FOR 45 AGAINST 26 PTS 52

Last season: Eighth

Highlights: Quins can count themselves unlucky coming so close in so may Premiership games. They picked up more losing bonus points (eight) than any other club and played enterprising and attacking rugby - reflected in the fact they made more clean breaks than all other teams in the league  . Could still secure Heineken Cup rugby next season if they beat Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final.

Lowlights: Missing out on the coveted sixth place. Discipline let them down at times - Quins picked up more yellow cards than any other team in the competition.

Player of the season: Chris Robshaw led by example week after week with uncompromising performances. Honourable mentions must also go to Nick Evans, George Robson and Mike Brown.

Discovery of the season: Joe Marler - fulfilled all the pre-season promise and, despite the ugly spat with Tigers' Marcos Ayerza  , enjoyed a fantastic breakthrough season.

Future prospects: Veteran prop Ceri Jones  and lock James Percival leave for Worcester  , lock Lewis Stevenson is off to Ulster  . But props James Johnston and Joe Marler  have agreed new deals and will be joined by Western Force's Tim Fairbrother  . Centre Tom Cheeseman  joins from Bath.

8th: EXETER W 10 D 0 L 12 TRIES FOR 32 TRIES AGAINST 42 PTS 43

Last season: Promoted from The Championship.

There's more to come from us - Baxter

Highlights: Many people's pre-season favourites for relegation, the Chiefs delighted neutrals by claiming Gloucester's scalp in the curtain-raiser at Sandy Park  in September and led 20-10 at Welford Road the following week  before the Tigers restored order.

But Exeter's breakthrough result was the 23-9 win against Saracens at Vicarage Road.   Outright underdogs, the Devon men produced a performance of true grit in face of a mighty onslaught from the hosts.

Lowlights: It seems harsh to even try and criticiize any apsect of their season, but the 12-9 home loss to Bath and on the road to Leeds were missed opportunities to stake a real claim for a Heineken Cup spot.

Player of the season: Haydn Thomas. The pivot at the heart of everything good about the Chiefs. Team-mates that ran him close: James Hanks, Tom Hayes, James Scaysbrook and Gareth Steenson.

Discovery of the season: Tom Johnson. In his first season of Premiership rugby "TJ" won admirers up and down the land and left some calling for international recognition for the Chiefs blind-side.

Future prospects: The Chiefs will look to build on their achievements this season with an eye on progressing to a top-six finish next term. Wales prop Craig Mitchell  arrives from Ospreys, John Andress returns from Quins  , Argentine stand-off Ignacio Mieres   has shown promise towards the end of the season, Ali Muldowney  joins an already strong second row from Glasgow, regulars Phil Dollman, Matt Jess and Nic Sestaret  have all agreed new deals while Samoan centre Josh Tatupu  and Bedford Blues livewire Myles Dorrian  will provide more midfield options

9th: WASPS W 9 D 1 L 12 TRIES FOR 36 TRIES AGAINST 45 PTS 43

Last season: Fifth

Highlights: Wasps fans will struggle to recall a season more wretched and bereft of highlights than this. On the field, the 37-30 win over Leicester at Adams Park on 18 September was a rare moment to savour.

Lowlights: Where to start? The season was no sooner underway than prop Phil Vickery picked up a career-ending neck injury.  The departure of director of rugby Tony Hanks  followed in February. Then Andy Powell was released by the club following a brawl in a West London bar last month.  On the field, the huge home defeat by Northampton and thrashing by Bath at Twickenham brought embarrassment. The arrival of interim coach Leon Holden did little to arrest a terrible second half of the season with only home wins over the bottom three clubs to show for their efforts. Wasps conceded more turnovers than any other side in the competition  . Club captain Tom Rees endured another injury-ravaged season and he had plenty to keep him company in the Wasps's treatment room.

Player of the season: Joe Simpson. A turn of pace matched only by the speed of his pass  . A constant danger to Wasps opponents, and even looked good when injuries forced him onto the wing against Sale .

Discovery of the season: Joe Launchbury.  Shades it among a quartet of promising youngsters  that emerged under difficult circumstances this term.

Future prospects: The search for a new director of rugby will be foremost in the club's minds this summer. Old boy Dean Ryan and former Bath coach Steve Meehan look to be favourites for the role. Dave Walder, Ben Jacobs and Serge Betsen all depart  as does young prop Charlie Beech   but Wasps have made some good signings in recent weeks: Ross Filipo joins from Bayonne,  England hooker Steve Thompson from Leeds  , while Nicky Robinson,  so effective for Gloucester this season, and Exeter's Ryan Davis   will be charged with filling Dave Walder's boots. Rumours have also linked England flanker James Haskell with a return to Wasps from his Paris sojourn.

10th: SALE W 6 D 1 L 15 TRIES FOR 34 TRIES AGAINST 66 PTS 32

Last season: 11th

Highlights: The 36-31 victory over Gloucester at Edgeley Park saw a talented back-line finally click in what was the only try-scoring bonus win of the season.

Lowlights: The season started badly and discontent in the changing room culminated in the sacking of head coach Mike Brewer in late December.  The following month play-maker and points machine Charlie Hodgson ended speculation over his future by signing for Saracens  . Then, rather than saving the best till last, Sale saved the worst. The final day 68-17 defeat at Gloucester was the heaviest of the season, where they conceded 10 tries.

Player of the season: Henry Thomas - the 19-year-old prop has made the transition up from the academy look easy and has shone in a disappointing season for the Sharks pack.

Discovery of the season: Winger Will Addison announced his arrival by scoring on his debut against Gloucester. The teenager's electric turn of pace and nose for the tryline should see him feature more next season.

Future prospects: No other side in the Premiership will undergo as radical a change in personnel in the close season as the Sharks as 21 players and four backroom staff are to leave Edgeley Park.  Executive director of rugby Steve Diamond has signed a host of new players for next season but one huge questions remains. Who will replace Hodgson?

11th: NEWCASTLE W 4 D 1 L 17 TRIES FOR 27 AGAINST 55 PTS 23

Last season: Ninth

Highlights: Falcons scrum was solid, they tackled like demons and the 22-5 win over Leeds at Headingley in February looked to have eased their relegation fears. Jimmy Gopperth produced another imperious display with the boot  .

Lowlights: Falcons' home form was poor and they lacked a real cutting edge out wide. "That kick" by Jeremy Manning   that let Leeds back into the crunch relegation encounter at Kingston Park.

Player of the season: Jimmy Gopperth, closely followed by Tim Swinson, James Hudson and Luke Fielden.

Discovery of the season: Alex Gray  - the England Under-20 skipper looks a fine back-row prospect, Tigers-bound prop Kieran Brookes also deserves plaudits.

Future prospects: Rugby union in the north of England is in a depressed state according to some but Falcons coach Alan Tait is not one to panic. Having said that, the former Scotland international will not want to find himself fighting relegation on the last day of the season again. Falcons announced a trio of regulars are to leave  but the draining of talent from the North East to the bigger clubs in the south continues with scrum-half Micky Young and prop Brookes heading to Leicester. Teenage fly-half Joel Hodgson is tipped to inherit the mantle of Messrs Wilkinson and Flood and has just signed a new three-year deal  to remain with Falcons.

12th: LEEDS W 4 D 0 L 18 TRIES FOR 30 TRIES AGAINST 62 PTS 23

Last season: 10th

Highlights: Full of endeavour and passion, Leeds won admirers for some gusty performances - none more so than their doomed heroics at Franklin's Gardens on the final day. Carnegie beat Gloucester, and nearly did the double over the Cherry and Whites, ran Bath close at the Rec in January and took a losing bonus point against Leicester.

Lowlights: Injuries plagued Leeds's season and had a devastating affect on their limited resources. The sacking of director of rugby Andy Key  in February did little to galvanise the Headingley club and just three victories followed. Shortly after Key's departure, promising centre James Tincknell was badly injured in a car crash  .

Player of the season: Hendre Fourie - no-one epitomised the grit, determination and doggedness of Leeds more than their England flanker.

Discovery of the season: Gareth Denman - the young prop showed promise this year despite limited starting opportunities. Leeds blooded a host of young players during their campaign and they will hope to keep hold of all of them in the coming months.

Future prospects: In a word - bleak. The departure of head coach Neil Back   came before the conclusion of the Championship final between Worcester and Cornish Pirates that could yet save the West Yorkshire club from relegation, if the Warriors lose over two legs. If they do drop down, there is sure to be an exodus of talent from Headingley.