Qualification changes have added competitive edge to Pro12 - Townsend
Glasgow Warriors coach Gregor Townsend has hailed the improvements to the Guinness Pro12 this season ahead of his side's semi-final against Ulster on Friday night.
The former Scotland fly-half guided last year's finalists to top spot this season and now wants to kick on and claim the title for the first time.
The introduction of European qualification based on league finishing position has heightened the competitiveness of the campaign and Townsend feels the quality has risen as a result.
"Its a very tough league this year, more than any other," he said.
"In hindsight, making it a qualification for Europe has made our league so competitive and so interesting right to the end. It's definitely better. You can argue whether relegation is a good or bad thing.
"We can't have relegation because we don't have any more professional teams but I think its a positive thing.
"Then you put the elements of semi-finals and play-offs for Europe and you see the results this year.
"I would have thought it would have been hard to imagine that four teams would finish above Leinster.
" Those four teams are very tight together. Probably what we most proud of it that we have shown a level of consistency and managed to get a home semi-final."
Meanwhile, Ulster will be without tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst for the play-offs, while Franco van der Merwe is an injury doubt for this weekend.