Over the summer months we have seen the British & Irish Lions make history in Australia, England secure a series victory in Argentina and the Rugby Championship prove once again that New Zealand are the team to beat.
Now it’s time to once again divert our rugby eyes to the domestic scene as the Aviva Premiership kicks-off this weekend. Will the Leicester Tigers defend their title, how will Newcastle Falcons fair on their return to the top flight and is this the year that Northampton Saints finally pick up the silverware?
Here at Lovell Rugby HQ, our money is firmly on Leicester to claim a record 11th English title as despite the release of Castrogiovanni and Ford amongst 15 departures, they have also strengthened and will certainly remain a strong presence. Their closest rivals look likely to be Northampton once again as the addition of Lions duo North and Corbisiero have certainly bolstered their squad.
Elsewhere and the arrival of Sackey on the Harlequins wing could see the London side reclaim the title they won in 2012 whilst Saracens will be strengthened by Billy Vunipola teaming up with his brother. Don’t be surprised if a certain Mr Henson also plays a staring role at some point this season for Bath although the smart money is on him claiming more column inches for his off-field antics rather than the talent he actually possesses.
At the other end of the table and it is hard to look beyond Newcastle only surviving one season in the top flight. As they have found before, it’s a big jump between the Aviva Premiership and the Championship although Worcester and London Irish could also find themselves in for a bumpy season at the wrong end of the table.
The opening weekend of fixtures reads as:
Newcastle Falcons v Bath
Gloucester v Sale Sharks
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs
Let us know who you think will be crowned Aviva Premiership champions in 2014 and don’t forget you can pick up your own replica rugby shirts to show off your support throughout the season.