The Aviva Premiership Rugby In’s and Outs’ // The Oracle Speaks!

The oracle has spoken!

Who is the oracle? His name is Lee Whitmore and hath a rugby mind like no other. He also has excellent hand skills (ahem) and plenty of time available to analyse the game of rugby.

He currently plays for his local rugby team and has been doing so from an early age. He has also been drinking from an early age and has been known to complete a Cheeky’s ‘meal deal’.

This is his first contribution to testosteronejunkie.com and once Gatland has got hold of his ass, probably his last!


 

With all the excitement of the summer tours over we in the Testosterone Junkie office needed something new to be excited over, so with Aviva Premiership Rugby only 6 weeks away we’ve taken a look at the ‘ins and outs’ of all 12 teams and attempted to predict their finish after a year of knocking the shit out of each other.

Let’s do this!

Bath

The perennial underachievers, this has been a squad littered with quality, Anthony Watson, Semesa Rokoduguni, Taulupe Faletau and Francois Louw to name a few but have never really done the business.

George ford will be a huge loss to them but they will hope Freddie Burns will step into those shoes. The big news for Bath is that young England open-side Sam Underhill is joining, watch out for this guy has got something special about him.

I think bath will struggle this season. Without ford pulling the strings I can’t see baths exciting wide men seeing much ball, my prediction is 7th.

Exeter

The true example of how a club should be run. From championship, no hopers to the premiership final in less than 10 years the Exeter board really do have their heads screwed on.

In Rob Baxter and his team they have arguably the best coaching set up in the premiership and my pick for the England job when Eddie Jones steps down.

This season Baxter has made two quality acquisitions in Matt Kvesic and the Aussie scrum half Nic White. I thought they were the best team in the league last year so could these two be the final pieces of the puzzle?

The Chiefs will take a lot of stopping this year but my prediction is losing finalists (again).

Gloucester

If fans could will a team to glory then surely Gloucester would be European champions every year but unfortunately for them their cast of diehard fans in the shed don’t have much say on that.

The signings of Owen Williams and Jason Woodward will be the ones that have the fans licking their lips but watch out for Jake Polledri, a young flanker brought in from Hartpury college, this guy was ripping the national leagues apart last season.

Grieg Laidlaw, James Hook and Matt Kvesic will be huge losses for the cherry and whites though.

This will be another season of mid table obscurity, my prediction being 9th.

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Harlequins

The fashionable team of English rugby. A bit of a nonstarter the last few years, capable of flashes of brilliance but far too many average performances to make a real impact.

Losing their talisman to retirement the legendary Nick Evans will be deeply missed by the club. The signings of Demetris Catrakilis and Francis Saili could make an impact but strike me as another two players that run hot and cold.

I think Quins will struggle, the star players are getting old and I just can’t see them doing too much, my prediction 10th.

Leicester

The biggest and best supported club of England have had the best of times the last few years by their lofty standards, so will this season be any different?

The signing of George Ford will have all Tiger’s fans thinking ‘why let him go in the first place’ but a quality addition non-the less.

There has been plenty of speculation who will grace Welford road this season. Damien Mackenzie and Jonny may amongst them but none have signed so will the losses of Owen Williams, Freddie Burns, Marco Ayerza, Peter Betham and JP Peiterson leave them with enough squad depth?

We’ll have to wait and see.

I think they need to invest in a quality platform to really challenge the top, my prediction 5th.

London Irish

The exiles bounced back from the championship in style last year but the premiership is a different kettle of fish. Gordon Reid, Ben Meehan, Napolini Nalaga, Saia Fainga’a, Luke McLean, Petrus du Plessis and Jake Schatz signing for the club obviously signal an intent that they plan on staying at the top table.

All good signings but can they all gel in time to make a meaningful impact!

I think the signings will take time but by midway through the season they will start taking the wins, my prediction 11th.

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Newcastle Falcons

The northern outreach and often forgotten club of the premiership the Falcons looked much improved last season and I see another improvement this year with the signings they have made.

Maxime Mermoz, Josh Matavesi, DTH van der Merwe and Toby Flood would be great signings for most clubs and I can see them bringing a new level to the Newcastle game.

Great signings added to a good squad, my prediction 8th.

Northampton Saints

Since they won the premiership a few years back they just seem to be ambling about, not bad but not fulfilling the potential the club has. Louis Picomoles will be a massive loss for anyone but some quality signings should elevate some of that distress.

Jamal ford Robinson and Mitch Eadie coming in from Bristol will be looking to prove themselves and Rob Horne, Cobus Reinach and Piers Francis will bring the super rugby speed to the Saints back line they much need.

Good signings to bring that edge the Saints have been missing, my prediction losing semi-finalists.

Sale Sharks

A bit of an enigma, they seem to be either brilliant or terrible, this season they lose the legends of Mike Philips and Peter Stringer as well as Sam Tuitupou but seeing Faf de Klerk, Jono Ross, Josh Strauss and the marmite James O’Connor come in will certainly change the dynamic.

I’m looking forward to seeing what these signings can do with the young English talent Sale already posses.

Sale will do well this year but I think they’re a few seasons away from pushing for honors yet. My prediction 6th.

Saracens

The most successful English team of recent years, the European champions will certainly be a force to be reckoned with again.

The purchases of Christopher tolofua, Cullum Clarke and Will Skelton will certainly bolster the squad but the signing of Liam Williams will more than make up for the loss of Chris Ashton.

Will be the team to beat again this year and I can’t see them not taking the title. My prediction, champions.

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Wasps

The big spenders last year wasps have pulled the reigns a bit this year only really signing Marcus Watson and Juan de Jongh but losing Kurtley Beale and Frank Halai.

This is a squad littered with class so there’s no doubt they will be pushing for honors.

There or there about but I’m not sure they have the edge that Exeter and Sarries do. My prediction, losing semi-finalists.

Worcester

The warriors seem to be a well-managed and well-run club but never seem to take the next step that Exeter chiefs managed to a few years ago. Bringing in Ethan Waller, Dave Denton and Peter Stringer may help their squad but will it be enough to keep them up?

Not enough quality in this squad for me, with the signings London Irish have made I can see Worcester being left behind. My prediction, relegated.

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