The 2016/17 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season Preview

23/08/2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Aviva Premiership

The 2016/17 Aviva Premiership Rugby season will be the 30th time the competition has been contested, featuring the top clubs in English rugby union.  The defending champions are Saracens, who are aiming to defend the title for a third season in a row and Bristol, will replace London Irish, who were relegated last season.

Saracens were formidable last season but will have to cope with the departure of experienced duo, Charlie Hodgson and Jacques Burger.  However, with the likes of Schalk Burger and Sean Maitland coming in, Saracens will be looking to push on form last season and have the same starting team, in order to do so.

Their closest challengers could be Leicester Tigers, who fell to Saracens at the semi-final stage last season.  Recruitment has been good, with the addition of Australian, Matt Toomua, an exciting prospect, along with JP Pietersen, who joins from the Sharks, in South Africa.  Whether this will be enough to upstage Saracens is another matter but Leicester should push them all the way.

Other potential challengers for the title include Wasps, who were exciting to watch last season.  They will be disappointed to have lost George Smith and Charles Piatau and with James Haskell out for some time, the incoming players, such as Kyle Eastmond and Danny Cipriani have their work cut out, if Wasps are to finish top of the pile.

Outside of these three teams, last season’s losing finalist, Exeter Chiefs, will be hoping to go one better.  However, after failing to produce a sustained performance in the final last time out, the new Australian duo of Greg Holmes and Dave Dennis, will have to really deliver the goods, to push Exeter one stage further and it has to be said, that’s unlikely to happen.

Moving to those teams potentially at the bottom of the table and it’s going to be a tough ask for Bristol, to remain off the bottom of the Aviva Premiership table.  They have a good young squad, who will be eager to produce at the top level and have made a number new signings.  It could be a scrap between themselves and Newcastle Falcons, to see who avoids the drop.  Newcastle were clinging on last season and despite the signing of Vereniki Goneva, from Leicester, this season is set to follow the same pattern.

Worcester Warriors, having lost their coach, Dean Ryan, will also be in for a bumpy ride this season but there is enough talent at the Sixways Stadium, to ensure another season of Aviva Premiership rugby.

As for the remaining teams, who are Bath, Gloucester, Harlequins, Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks, they may have to settle for a mid-table position, as the top four places are probably out of their reach.