Rob Andrew has mounted a vigorous defence of the Guinness Premiership following 'unjust criticism' of English domestic rugby's flagship competition.
Newcastle rugby director Andrew has urged those critics to look at this season's European Cup and European Challenge Cup, where English clubs could potentially provide more than half the quarter-finalists across both tournaments.
Detractors have labelled the Premiership a stale, defence-orientated league with little to enthuse neutral supporters, but Andrew has hit back ahead of his team's clash against improving Leeds at Headingley.
"I would go as far as to say the Guinness Premiership is undoubtedly the best national competition in the world," he claimed.
"Every week, you look at the six games on the fixture list and any side could beat any other.
"We are hardly at the halfway point in the English league and we've already played one and a half (Australian) Super 12 seasons, so it is a real test over a period of time to see who the best team is, and I think that adds value to the competition.
"The Premiership has come in for some unjust criticism recently in my book, mainly from Celtic quarters in the press, but if you look at the teams this season dominating the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup, the English sides have fared very well indeed."