The Aviva Premiership season kicks off on September 2nd after a long and arduous 2016/17 campaign for the league’s star players. With international duty still ongoing, and squads still being assembled, we’ve taken some time out to look at how the bookies see the season shaping up.
A 5th place finish in 2016/17 will undoubtedly be considered as a disappointing season for the Rec faithful. With an exciting backline full of pace and international experience including the likes of Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni the fans will be hoping for more this season. The loss of fly half maestro George Ford may cause some problems but Freddy Burns is an experienced and capable replacement. If the forwards can provide a strong enough platform then Bath will cause teams problems and on their day they can beat anyone. If things click they will mount a challenge and at 18-1 with Paddy Power they offer good value for anyone looking for an outside punt.
Last Season: 5th
Following a slow start to last season which saw the Chiefs win just two of their opening ten matches in all competitions, few would have predicted that they would reach their second consecutive Premiership Grand Final. Once they hit their stride there was no stopping them, with a record breaking eight consecutive bonus point wins that saw the Chiefs finish level on points with Wasps in the end of season standings. What followed was the stuff of legends, a last gasp win against favourites Saracens in the playoff semi-finals, followed by an extra time win against Wasps in the final. Whilst their squad is full of exciting talent, it’s fair to say they don’t boast the big names of some of their rivals. The bookies still fancy them to reach the playoffs though. Get 4-1 with Betfred if Exeter are crowned champions again.
Last Season: 2nd (Playoff Champions)
A European Challenge Cup Final appearance threatened to paper over the cracks of a disappointing campaign for the Cherry Whites, before a heavy final defeat to Stade Francais put an end to any thoughts of silverware. It was a season of underachievement for Gloucester and the loss of experienced campaigners Greig Laidlaw and James Hook alongside Matt Kvesic won’t help. Fans will look to home wins against Saracens and Wasps for inspiration, but with odds as long as 80-1 with Paddy Power, the bookies agree it’s going to be another long season for Gloucester.
Last Season: 9th
11 wins and 11 losses tells a tail of inconsistency for the Harlequins in 2016/17. The loss of Nick Evans to injury hurt the Londoners but the Harlequins have a squad that is full of international experience, many of whom, namely Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw, will feel they have a point to prove this season. Betfred and PaddyPower are both offering Quins at 40-1 to become Champions, and whilst that may be a stretch too far, with some shrewd recruitment they may not be too far away from the playoffs.
Last Season: 6th
A 13th consecutive play-off appearance was an incredible return for what can only be described as a disrupted season for the Tigers. Some poor results along with changes in coaching personnel threatened to leave the team in turmoil but they turned things around, as they so often do. The return of George Ford will please many fans as he replaces the outgoing Freddy Burns. Never write Leicester off, but it could be a tricky 2017/18 with others strengthening their squads. Bet Victor are offering 12-1 for Leicester to win the Grand Final.
Last Season: 4th (Playoff Semi-Finals)
19 wins, and 13 bonus points from their 20 games in the Championship, last season shows that London Irish belong with England’s elite in the Aviva Premiership. They’ve recruited well with experienced campaigners Luke Mclean, Petrus Du Plessis, Gordon Reid, Filo Paulo and Saia Fainga’a joining the Irish ranks. But the first season in the big time is always difficult for sides promoted from the Championship and while London Irish are better equipped than those who have proceeded them, expect them to be in the relegation mix. Odds of 500-1 with PaddyPower show that the bookies agree.
Last Season: 1st (Championship)
Odds of 300-1 with PaddyPower show that the bookies give The Falcons little chance of improving on their 8th place finish last season – their best since 2006 – but they have brought in some real quality in Maxine Mermoz, Toby Flood, DTH Van De Merwe and Josh Matavesi. They aren’t going to challenge for the play offs but it won’t surprise many if they finish as high as 6th, they’ll certainly entertain along the way.
Last Season: 8th
A 7th placed finish was nothing short of a disaster for Saints, a team that only two seasons earlier topped the final season standings and three seasons earlier were crowned Grand Final Champions. The loss of Louis Picamoles, one of the world’s best number 8’s will not help their cause. The Saints will not have to contend will European Champions Cup rugby though and their squad still oozes talent so expect them to improve on 7th place. Odds of 40-1 with PaddyPower suggest that the bookies are still unsure. Check the odds on Saints making the play offs closer to the beginning of the season.
Last Season: 7th
It was a poor season for Sale Sharks in which their early season form almost saw them drawn into a relegation dog-fight. They will expect to see an improvement this season and James O’Connor could be an inspired addition to the squad. There’s no doubting the Australian’s talent, and on his day he can be a match winner. Sale fans will also hope to see more of the same from Denny Solomona. The league convert has an eye for the white-wash, managing 11 tries in 15 games for the Sharks in all competitions, as well as the winning try against Argentina on his full international debut. Odds ranging from 66-1 with Betfred to 250-1 with PaddyPower reflect the bookies uncertainty, but the Sharks are unlikely to make great waves.
Last Season: 10th
It’s hard to look beyond European Champions Saracens to become Grand Final Champions again in 2017/18. They will be disappointed not to have clinched a third consecutive title last season and their squad is packed full of international class players. Testament to this are the seven current Lions on tour in New Zealand who will be at the club next season. This will raise questions of fatigue, but they will be in the play-offs come the end of next season without question. The addition of Will Skelton and Liam Williams provides a real statement of intent, so expect them to be competing on all fronts. It will come as no surprise then that Saracens are 5-4 on with Betfred and evens with both PaddyPower and Bet Victor.
Last Season: 3rd (Playoff Semi-Finals)
Everyone involved with Wasps will feel hard done by in a season that saw them finish as top points and try scorers in the league. There’s quality throughout the squad, but the departure of Kurtley Beale, with his ability to be a world class game changer, will hurt. Despite that, Christian Wade will continue to dazzle defences after equalling the Premiership record of 18 tries in a season and alongside Eliot Daly and Willie Le Roux will provide real fire power in the backline. Joe Launchbury will have a bigger point to prove than most after the outstanding lock was left out of Warren Gatland’s Lions squad. Expect to see the Wasps competing again, the bookies agree with odds as short as 5-2 with Paddy Power.
Last Season: 1st (Playoff Runners Up)
It’s hard to see beyond another relegation battle for the Warriors this year with the bookies valuing them at 500-1 alongside the newly-promoted London Irish. Yes, they continue to improve year on year but, unfortunately for Worcester fans, so does every other team in the top-flight. A win against Saracens shows just how far the team has come, but defeat to relegated Bristol shows just how far they have left to go. Expect to see them struggle again.
Last Season: 11th