So the new season is nearly upon us, now is the time to set out our predictions and hope that no one dusts it off in a few months time to show how wrong we were.
How did you do last year?
I just said that this shouldn’t be dusted off! Oh well here goes:
My Prediction 1) Saracens 2) Leicester 3) Quins 4) Exeter 5) Saints 6) Gloucester 7) Bath 8) Wasps 9) Sale 10) Falcons 11) Worcester 12) Irish The Final Table 1) Saracens 2) Saints 3) Leicester 4) Quins 5) Bath 6) Sale 7) Wasps 8) Exeter 9) Gloucester 10) Irish 11) Falcons 12) Worcester
First up an admission, I’m an Exeter fan. So I got a bit overly optimistic on our result, but if you exclude that, I got:
- 3 out of the top 4 correct
- Middle pack correct except upside down
- Bottom 3 correct
That’s the optimistic view, where I went wrong was:
- I misjudged the quality of Saints recruitment
- Expected Bath to take longer to gel
- Underestimated the Sale revival with Diamond in a track suit
- Underestimated the drain of the Heineken Cup on Exeter and Gloucester
So with that dodgy record, how do you see this season going?
For the past 3 seasons the top 4 have been the same and you have to go back to 08-09 season since for there to be only 2 of them in the top 4. Even with the recruitment that has taken place over the summer I think we will be looking at the same 4 making the playoffs. With only Quins being slightly vulnerable to one of the big chasing pack being lead by Bath.
The mid table group of (Bath, Sale, Wasps, Exeter and Gloucester) I think will also be the same.
Finally I expect the bottom 3 to be Irish ahead of Newcastle and Welsh.
So that’s the three groups of teams what about the actual order?
1) Saracens 2) Tigers 3) Saints 4) Quins
To be honest I think that the top 3 could end up in any order but have changed it slightly as Tigers have a better squad and they suffered badly with injuries last year.
Quins were 20 points behind Saracens last season and I don’t think that their recruitment will have closed that gap.
5) Bath 6) Exeter 7) Sale 8) Gloucester 9) Wasps
Again this lot could end up in any order. I think that Wasps will struggle with squad depth as they are in the new European Rugby Champions Cup (that’s a mouthful!).
Gloucester have beefed up their front row so shouldn’t get pushed around so much but a new half back pairing might take time to settle.
Sale with Diamond in a track suit and not in a suit and tie are always a threat so should go well but again have the ERCC as a distraction.
Exeter won’t have the ERCC as a distraction and are a settled squad so I expect them to get back into the top 6.
Bath did push for a top 4 place last year and should remain the most likely to break into the playoffs. So they should head this bunch as long as they don’t get carried away with the Burgess sideshow.
10) Irish 11) Welsh 12) Newcastle
Irish continue to lose their best players so I can’t see them progressing this year, they should still be good enough to stay ahead of Welsh and Newcastle.
Welsh have some big name signings but can Olly Barkley play well for any club that’s not Bath? Is Weepu fully recovered from his stroke in February? A lot will depend on these 2 players and if they can get Welsh in the right parts of the pitch when they get good ball.
Newcastle only stayed up due to Warriors being so bad, has Dean Richards managed to improve his team enough to do better this time around?
So there are my predicted positions at the end of the season. There will be surprises both in clubs doing better and worse than expected and that’s part of the fun of it. I’ll try to post my weekly predictions on results also.