Unlike, the Pro12, the Aviva Premiership knows all about spectacle and how to start a season off just right with some tasty matchups, including a doubleheader at Twickenham.
Here are my pre-season rankings, based on last season’s Expected Points model (no Elo), with the caveat that my “Trophies Don’t Lie!” rule means Northampton sits on top, and newly promoted London Welsh start at the bottom.
- Saracens (Ranked #2) vs. London Wasps (#8). First of the two matches at Twickenham features a team that I’m surprised lost both the Premiership and Heineken Cup against a team that may or may not be leaving London…
- London Irish (#10) vs. Harlequins (#5). The second match at Twickenham will give everyone a good indication how serious Harlequins are to challenging the top teams for the title this season.
Worth a look:
- Northampton Saints (#1) vs. Gloucester (#9). I could easily move this into the “Must-see” category. Defending champions taking on a young and promising team?
- Sale Sharks (#6) vs. Bath (#4). Two decent sides facing off to start the season.
- Leicester Tigers (#3) vs. Newcastle (#11). One of these teams is a giant of English rugby, the other probably should have been relegated last season. I’m expecting points galore.
Only for the hard-core:
- London Welsh (#12) vs. Exeter Chiefs (#7). This may actually be a decent game, but somebody has to fit in this section.