Last Word On Rugby Contributors ‘2017/18 Aviva Premiership Predictions’

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Aviva Premiership 2017/18 Launch
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Players from the twelve Aviva Premiership clubs pose during the Aviva Premiership 2017/18 Launch at Twickenham Stadium on August 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

The 2017/18 Aviva Premiership season is just days away, and with it fans excitement is once again beginning to rise. Kit launches, new signings and pre-season games have social media all a flutter.

As sides focus clearly now on Round One games, the 2017/18 Aviva Premiership predictions abound across the game and here at LWOR we’re no different. With all the evidence, analysis, interviews and media announcements being peppered at the fans, our team have drilled-down into this seasons sides to give their verdicts on how each will fare.

Alistair Stokes 2017/18 Aviva Premiership Predictions

  1. Saracens
  2. Wasps
  3. Exeter Chiefs
  4. Leicester Tigers
  5. Bath Rugby
  6. Northampton Saints
  7. Newcastle Falcons
  8. Gloucester Rugby
  9. Harlequins
  10. Sale Sharks
  11. London Irish
  12. Worcester Warriors
“This season is one of the hardest to predict in recent years, with many sides adding quality to their playing and coaching staff. The strength in last season’s top 4 will likely be enough to retain their playoff positions. Saracens have bolstered their forwards in preparation for the absences of their England stars in the pack, namely Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, George Kruis and Billy Vunipola.
“Leicester’s big names are fit again and George Ford is returning but they will have to cope with losing half-back pairing Ben Youngs and George Ford to England at times. Newcastle Falcons have gone from strength to strength under the shrewd guidance of Dean Richards. The impressive additions to their back-line should be enough to clinch a few extra wins. However, their pack is not as dominant as mid-table contenders Northampton Saints. Saints themselves have softened the blow of the departing Louis Picamoles with the impressive Mitch Eadie. The addition of Cobus Reinach, Rib Horne and Piers Francis should improve their struggling attack.
“Sale Sharks have added some star power at 9 and 10 with Faf de Klerk and James O’Connor but it doesn’t fee like the right pieces needed for Steve Diamond’s jigsaw. London Irish have returned to the Premiership with an impressive front-row unit and a more settled fly-half department than relegation contenders Worcester Warriors. This should be enough for the exiles to stay up but will most probably fall behind the tight competition between 6th and 10th place. The Premiership remains a exciting and competitive as ever, we all wait with baited breath for it to kick off.”

Sam Meade’s 2017/18 Aviva Premiership Predictions

1. Saracens
2. Wasps
3. Exeter Chiefs
4. Leicester Tigers
5. Northampton Saints
6. Bath Rugby
7. Sale Sharks
8. Gloucester Rugby
9. Harlequins
10. Worcester Warriors
11. Newcastle Falcons
12. London Irish

“Mark McCall’s Saracens will have the grit between their teeth to regain their Premiership crown and further strengthened by the likes of Liam Williams and Will Skelton, they will be hard to stop.

“Last year’s finalists, Wasps and Exeter, both added more to their squads and they appear the two sides most likely to provide Sarries with a challenge this term. Keep an eye out especially for young scrum halfs, Jack Maunder and Stuart Townsend, who both impressed towards the latter end of last season.

“Leicester, with the additions of George Ford and Jonny May, look best of the rest with both Bath and Northampton the models of inconsistency of late. A strong pre-season however, could turn either three into title contenders.

Sale ended last season well and have a fantastic crop of young players eager to make a name for themselves. Maverick wallaby James O’Connor will look to prove his doubters wrong in a side that could well be the surprise package of the year.
Gloucester will hope Johan Ackerman can hit the ground running following his arrival from the Lions in South Africa. Yet, much like his time in Johannesburg, the former Springbok may require a year or two to adequately assess what he needs to be a success at Kingsholm. 

“Irish will be pleased to return to the top table but look set to battle it out with Newcastle in my opinion. The Falcons overachieved last year and will be hard pushed to keep away from the drop this term.”

Aaron Tillyer’s 2017/18 Aviva Premiership Predictions

1. Leicester Tigers
2. Saracens
3. Wasps
4. Harlequins
5. Exeter Chiefs
6. Northampton Saints
7. Sale Sharks
8. Newcastle Falcons
9. Bath Rugby
10. Gloucester Rugby
11. London Irish
12. Worcester Warriors
“Leicester’s new attacking force could parallel that of Saracens and Wasps this season. George Ford and Matt Toomua could be the difference that propels them to top spot. Without the likes of Chris Ashton, Saracens will turn to Sean Maitland, Chris Wyles, Alex Goode and new signing Liam Williams to provide the tries.
Wasps’ defensive frailties last season meant teams could pick up bonus points. But their attack tends to fair far greater than their defence. Leicester’s and Saracens’ defences will prove stronger.
“Quins might just scrape that fourth spot over the Chiefs. Despite bringing in All Black quality with Francis Saili at Quins, both sides haven’t strengthened as much as clubs around them. Chiefs will need to avoid the winnable losses they accrued last year.
Saints’ imports will take a little time to adjust and may not have that decisive impact Jim Mallinder will be expecting. If the Sharks can get a good run going, perhaps they could finish above Northampton.
“The Falcons could prove the dark horses of the competition. The prospect of Toby Flood, Maxime Mermoz and the Matavesi brothers will provide an exciting attacking force. However they may not prove as potent as other teams around them.
Bath struggled during the second half of last season. They haven’t strengthened as much as their rivals and it could have a big impact.
“Johan Ackermann’s Gloucester may just edge London Irish into tenth. Irish have been busy in the off season with recruitment but may find themselves in a two-way relegation battle with Worcester. The Warriors have flirted with relegation in recent seasons and this may be the one they fail to hang on to.”

Harvey Grant’s 2017/18 Aviva Premiership Predictions

  1. Saracens
  2. Exeter Chiefs
  3. Wasps
  4. Leicester Tigers
  5. Northampton Saints
  6. Bath Rugby
  7. Gloucester rugby
  8. Harlequins
  9. Sale Sharks
  10. Newcastle Falcons
  11. Worcester Warriors
  12. London Irish

“My Premiership prediction to win the title is Wasps. I personally think that Wasps do have a lot to lose this season. Last year they built a strong squad and brought a finesse to the pitch every time they played but they lacked a strong start, for this reason I believe they will come 2nd or 3rd to Saracens and/or Exeter. Saracens and Exeter are more than capable of finessing through every team in the league with maybe a struggle against each other and Wasps.

“Last season Leicester edged out Bath for that fourth place and I reckon they’ll easily bag it again. Then you have the mid table teams who fight year through year for the European rugby spots. Northampton have a newly revived squad so they can be dangerous from the word go. With the usual suspects straggling behind them. Sale and newcastle haven’t brought in enough big signings to make them a threat and again, they look like they could possibly having a disappointing season.

“The relegation battle will be really interesting because this year their isn’t a team that is obviously weak; Irish or Worcester are my picks to battle for it [relegation], mainly due to Irish being the newly promoted side and Worcester easily having one of the weakest sides in the league.”

James Barker’s 2017/18 Aviva Premiership Predictions

  1. Saracens
  2. Wasps
  3. Exeter Chiefs
  4. Leicester Tigers
  5. Bath Rugby
  6. Northampton Saints
  7. Gloucester Rugby
  8. Harlequins
  9. Newcastle
  10. Sale Sharks
  11. Worcester Warriors
  12. London Irish

“This season I expect the three ‘mini-leagues’ of Aviva Premiership to establish themselves again. The league is ferociously competitive and recruitment patterns suggest there might not be too much difference to last year in the final standings. In the top four Saracens are unlikely to repeat their mistake of not securing a home semi-final and have added more quality to their squad. As champions Exeter will be targeted by everyone and may be distracted by a Champions Cup effort this season.

“Leicester have added international quality to their backline and will surely not suffer any of the hammerings of last season. The second mini-league is the chasing pack, and it is an ever-growing group that may well stretch from 5th-10th, but Bath, Gloucester, Harlequins and Northampton all have realistic top six ambitions. Northampton have impressed in pre-season and Gloucester’s hopes will rest on how quickly Johan Ackermann can redefine the club culture. It is the Cherry and Whites who as usual are the least predictable side in the league and are the most likely to either rise or fall into another mini-league.

“The relegation battle forms the third and final mini-league. It is tough on Sale and Newcastle to place them in this category but this goes to show the strength of the league. In reality it is probably only Worcester and London Irish who will be seriously threatened by relegation. Irish have plenty of Premiership and International experience to survive and it could come down to bonus points for survival.”

Steve Kendall’s 2017/18 Aviva Premiership Predictions

  1. Saracens
  2. Exeter Chiefs
  3. Leicester Tigers
  4. Wasps
  5. Bath Rugby
  6. Northampton Saints
  7. Newcastle Falcons
  8. Gloucester Rugby
  9. Harlequins
  10. Sale Sharks
  11. Worcester Warriors
  12. London Irish

“Although last year, their focus was on repeating their European success of 2015, it’s hard to see past Saracens putting right their mistakes at the end of last season.  Their returning Lions will be bolstered by the confidence of drawing the series in New Zealand and they have further strengthened their squad in the wake of leavers such as Chris Ashton.

“Although I think Leicester under the organisation of Matt O’Connor and the return to fitness of big back-line players will be much improved, I’m not sure it will be enough to overhaul the Chiefs who now know what it takes to win this league.  Wasps will be found out a little more this year and I suspect their pack to be a little light-weight to push for ultimate honours.

“The usual mid-table scrap could go in many different directions and should Gloucester get their act together, they could spring a surprise or two and even finish as high as fifth. Equally, if Bath do not shore up some of their frailties, they could slip further down than they did last year.

“I can’t see past a Worcester/Irish relegation battle with the Warriors experience telling come the end of the season with Irish making way for a returning and more Premiership-prepared Bristol for 2018/19”.

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With our team of contributors themselves working hard on 2017/18 Aviva Premiership predictions, it gives LWOR a firm handle on the full spectrum of sides. From the outright leaders, to the mid-tables sides looking to leap up the ladder, and sides that must stay motivated to stay above the tide.

It looks to be one of the more exciting years ahead, and follow all our contributors on Last Word on Rugby, from kick-off on September 1st, through all 22 rounds, on to the playoff series beginning in May 2018.

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