When NEC Harlequins kick-off against Bath at the Stoop on Saturday (25th September), it will mark the 1,000th Premiership match. The Premiership began on Saturday 23rd August 1997 with a match between Bath and Newcastle Falcons at The Recreation Ground.<br /> <br />This fixture saw a win for the Falcons with a line-up that included England legends Rob Andrew, now Director of Rugby, and Tony Underwood, and captained by Dean Ryan. Bath's team included Mike Catt, Matt Perry, Victor Ubogu and Phil De Glanville. The match was referred by Steve Lander, who will be acting as fourth official at the 1,000th Premiership match this weekend at the Stoop.<br /> <br />Falcon Tim Stimpson scored the first points of the Premiership with a penalty after two minutes, before Will Carling grabbed the first Premiership try after four minutes of Quins match at Northampton. <br /> <br />A total of 23 players who appeared in a Premiership match on the opening weekend are still playing in the Zurich Premiership today. This exclusive group includes Mike Catt, Josh Lewsey, Justin Bishop, Richard Hill and Tim Stimpson.
There were only five matches in the opening round back in 1997 as Wasps's match against Leicester Tigers at Loftus Road was postponed at the request of the police due to the Notting Hill carnival!
Over the last sevens years, the Premiership has developed into one of the most demanding and competitive leagues in the world and attendance has tripled in the last seven years. The cumulative weekend attendance for the opening round of the Premiership was 28,370 (for five matches), compared to 82,358 for the opening weekend this season.
Since the Premiership began in 1997 there have been almost 5,000 tries. The 1,000th try was scored by Gary Armstrong for Newcastle at Bedford on 24th October 1998; the 2,000th by Ed Pearce for Gloucester against London Irish on 26th December 1999; the 3,000th by Ian Jones for Gloucester versus Leicester on 31st March 2001 and the 4,000th by Hugh Vyvyan for Newcastle against Quins on 1st February last year.
And the clubs are approaching 50,000 points in Premiership games. The 10,000th point was scored by Troy Coker with a try for Saracens at Bedford on 15th November 1998. The 20,000th point was a John Preston conversion for Bath against Bristol on 25th March 2000. The 30,000th point was a Jamie Noon try for Newcastle versus Bristol on 14th October 2001, with the 40,000th point coming from a Jos Baxendell conversion for Sale at Northampton on 26th April last year.
Tony Diprose is currently the only player to have appeared in over 150 Premiership games, having played for Quins and Saracens during the last eight seasons.
*NB - There are still tickets available for Saturday's game at the Stoop (kick-off 3.05pm) and they can be purchased by calling the Quins ticketline on 0871 871 8877 or online by clicking here.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.