The Premiership half year and 2017 review

The Premiership half year and 2017 review

The 23rd of December see's #Rugbyunited turn 6 years old, but rather than showing signs of slowing down, we're currently working on some things for 2018 that are both brand new and exciting for us, so keep your eyes out for that!

This blog would usually go up on the 23rd, but a) I'm working, so may not have time and b)there are a lot of pre-xmas games, and people may be busy, so I'm putting it up a day early, technically it's a just less than half season review, with an added grade for the 2017 performance!

Exeter Chiefs

The first part of 2017 saw the Chiefs take the Premiership crown, and so far in the latter half of the year, Baxter's boys have been the embodiment of consistency over the first 10 matches of this season,this consistency has seen them open up an 8 point lead at the top of the table with just 2 defeats blotting the copybook thus far. As per usual, it's not star names who make headlines at Sandy Park, it's the collective, guys like Ian Whitten, Jonny Hill, Sam Simmonds all putting in some huge performances, and the clamour for Don Armand to get a shot with England grows weekly off the back of his performances so far. Chiefs have ridden the waves through the international window and are still up top and no matter what happens, they will be top of the table at Christmas!


Season Grade - A+

2017 Grade - A +

Gloucester Rugby

Last season ended with a whimper for the Cherry and Whites, the polarizing coach, Laurie Fisher, ultimately fell on his sword and paved the way for a mini revolution led by Father and Son team of Johan and Ruan Ackermann. Johan has turned what has been an injury ravaged squad all season into a finely tuned machine, the disappointing loss of Matt Kvesic and the U-Turn made by Carl Fearns have long been forgotten largely due to Ruan's arrival, coupled with the emergence of Freddie Clarke and the man with the best defensive stats in the European top leagues, Lewis Ludlow as the young back row trio have dominated many games this season. Also, the Billy's, Burns and Twelvetrees have clicked magnificently since Glos were dismantled by Sale and fully fit Henry Trinder has some magic in his boots once more! Exciting times at the 'Holm!

Season Grade - A

2017 Grade - C


Back to back European cup victories show that Saracens are a true force in rugby, their players were the backbone of the Lions and England Squads, but at the time of writing they are currently on a 7 match losing streak.... I mean, they're still 3rd in the league,so it's not all doom and gloom, but it's not a sequence they will be used to! With 12 games of regular season to go, you wouldn't bet against a  recovery! The usual suspects are leading the way, but with so many players being relied on for England (and other international sides), some of the younger talent has been prominent as well. In Nick Isiekwe they appear to have Maro Itoje V2 on the books and exciting young 10 Max Malins has been pressed into Premiership action with Farrell and Lozowski both being utilised by Eddie Jones... the days of Saracens relying heavily on foreign imports seems to be a thing of the past, but is the wealth of young English talent harming them in the league when they are called up en masse for international duty???


Season Grade - B+

2017 Grade - A

Bath Rugby

After a disappointing 2016/17 season, Mike Ford left Bath and Todd Blackadder came in, seemingly the club was about to disintegrate, George Ford followed his Dad out of the Rec and returned to the Tigers and it seemed things were set to slide, but Rhys Priestland and Freddie Burns (who went the other way to George Ford) are pulling the strings for the potent backline and the forwards are starting to look fearsome. When the whole 15 are clicking together, Bath will be a daunting prospect for any side. Some superb performances from the likes of Aled Brew and Max Clark are eclipsing some of the bigger names and Matt Banahan is still rumbling over for tries. Currently Bath sit 4th place in a congested top 6, top 4 will be a priority for them but it's a big ask!

Season Grade - B

2017 Grade - B


Losing Premiership finalists in 16/17 season would have hoped to go one better this season, but their efforts were hampered by a long injury list and (as I wrote in my pre-season blog) the squad depth wasn't sufficient to maintain the pace in the Premiership and saw the splutter at the start of the season. Recovery is well underway though and they are 5th in the table (and playing 2nd place Gloucester at the Ricoh on the 23rd) so they sit well for a push in the second half of the season, although news that Daly and Hughes may now be long term absentees is not good! Underwhelming recent performances from Christian Wade have been offset by Josh Bassett's form and the 'fringe' players are now starting to hit Premiership pace, you can't bet against a top 4 finish.

Season Grade - B 

2017 Grade - A-

Leicester Tigers

Welford Road seemed an unhappy place last season, Richard Cockerill was gone, Aaron Mauger led the Tigers well in his absence and then it was widely reported the playing squad didn't want Matt O'Connor to replace Mauger at the seasons end. However, not many signs of that as the new regime has combined some quality new players alongside the Tigers old guard and despite them currently sitting 6th, some of their play has been phenomenal this season, the form of the impressive back 3, May, Veainu and Malouf has been vital, and the pack are answering most of the questions asked of them! As the top 6 seem set to escape from the bottom 6, Tigers will be looking at not keeping pace, but overtaking those above them!

Season grade- B-

2017 grade - B-


Quins seem to be glued into the mid table battles of late and this season is no exception. Doubtlessly they suffer from England call ups but when they know this will happen, is recruitment the issue? There seems to be very little bridge between the Academy prospects and the England guys. Marcus Smith is one of the academy boys who is flying high at the moment, catching the eye with his mature play and Pacific Island style hitch kick! Big future for that boy! His chance came as the heir apparent to Nick Evans 10 jersey, Demitri Catrakilis suffered a scary throat injury early in the season. Marland Yarde's somewhat acrimonious exit could spawn a blog of it's own, so that's as much as I'll say on that matter!

Season Grade - C

2017 Grade - C

Newcastle Falcons

Did more than enough to stave off their predicted relegation last season and started this season looking like top 4 contenders, truth is, despite some fantastic signings, they are probably in about the right spot, but they will certainly be capable of springing a surprise or 2 before the end of the season. It's taken a while to get all the cogs in place due to injuries, but Falcons these days have some big talent in the likes of  Flood, Mermoz, DTH, the Matavesi's, Sinoti Sinoti available for their backline, and more than capable players in the pack, this could be a transition year for the Falcons and they'd be a welcome addition to the top table next year! They finished 8th last season and currently sit in the same spot this go round but don't be fooled, the Falcons are a very good side this season!

Season Grade-C+

2017 Grade - C-

Sale Sharks

On paper, the Sharks have one of the most potent backlines in the league, with an embarassment of riches on the wings and the likes of Faf de Klerk and James O'Connor pulling the strings, they also have the Curry twins as the jewels in the crown up front too, yet despite some impressive wins, the hammering of Gloucester stands out, they have matches where they almost appear to switch off and lose matches they ought to win. Whereas I don't think they will be struggling against relegation, they need to start winning more of the matches they fall asleep in if they are to challenge the Top 6

Season Grade - D

2017 Grade - C-


 Northampton Saints

Jim Mallinder has aready been removed from Saints as they have alarmingly slid to the 'wrong' end of the table. They started this season badly, recovered and then dipped badly again. They would have been looking to improve on last seasons 7th place but it looks like a big ask at this point, they need to add their new main man as soon as they can and put their start behind them if they are to move on up. Part of the problem was the Louis Picamoles situation, not just him leaving, but the inability to replace him sufficiently. He was a main cog in their machine last season and it's certainly affecting them this time round.

Season Grade - D

2017 Grade - C-

Worcester Warriors

11th place last season, and so far, 11th place this season, despite a pretty big overhaul of the squad in close season, the Warriors looked awful at the start of this term, although they have recently recovered and are starting to look competitive, Talks of a change of ownership and a new coach at the end of the season are disruptive, but some of the talent at the squad has enormous upside and the potential is huge, Hougaard at 9 seems to be the key. Since he returned to fitness, and Jonno Lance signed, they have looked a different side and the likes of Heem, Adams, Willison et al are flourishing as a result.

Season Grade - D

2017 Grade - D 

London Irish

After dominating the Championship and getting back to the top table, an opening day win and some impressive players in the squad, it looked like the Exiles would have no issue in keeping hold of their Premiership berth this season, however 9 straight losses have seen them fall back to bottom spot and with the Warriors upturn in form it's starting to look like Irish may have a tough time of it to stay up. But as is the way of the Premiership, a couple of wins on the bounce and the table looks very different, no matter which team gets the wins, so all is not lost! Irish have also had not one but 2 unavoidable non-injury losses of players with Josh McNally needing heart surgery and Darren Dawiduik currently undergoing testicular cancer treatment, both cases are thankfully rare in rugby and we wish them both a speedy return to the field and obviously clean bills of health!

Season Grade - D

2017 Grade - B-


Have a fantastic christmas, everyone, from all of us at #rugbyunited. I'll try and get the Premiership roundup on next week, if not, have an amazing new year!