Aviva Premiership Team-by-Team Guide: Part 3

Aviva Trophy

Here are the next three teams for our Team-by-Team guide for the Aviva Premiership. We feel that one of these three will be playing in the Championship next season. What do you think?

Wasps Team: London Wasps
Coach: Dai Young
Ground: Adams Park
Key players in:
T. Rhys Thomas (Cardiff Blues), Phil Swainston (Leeds), Will Taylor (Ospreys), Tom Palmer (Stade Francais) Ashley Johnson (Cheetahs), James Haskell (Highlanders), Tommy Bell (Sale), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Lee Thomas (Lyon), James Bailey (Lyon) and Andrea Masi (Aironi).
Key players out:
Rob Webber (Bath), Vladislv Korshunov (VVA-Podmoskovye), Ben Broster (Biarritz), Jeremy Castex (Perpignan), Victor Gresev (Krasny Yar), Dominic Waldouck (Northampton), Alex Cheeseman (Cornish Pirates), Riki Flutey (Ricoh Black Rams), Tom Prydie (Dragons) and Richard Haughton (Jersey).
Strengths:
The depth of their youth academy is a huge strength for the club in the future. The returning Haskell and Palmer should add some English grit and determination to the pack which seemed to be lacking in last season, whilst Johnson is a beast of a man at 8 and will carry the ball all day if required.
Weaknesses:
Last season showed the cracks of the young Wasps squad and if unlucky again with a few key injuries, the lack of experience could see them in trouble. They have lost both Flutey and Waldouck from the centre positions, both of whom would start if they had them back again.
Player to watch:
Stephen Jones has left the Scarlets and joined Wasps. You don’t get 110 International caps for nothing and his experience and game management will be invaluable to the squad. If Joe Simpson and the pack can supply him with the ball quickly, then Wasps might surprise a few teams this season.
Last season:
Really poor by their previous high standards. They were hit by a savage injury crisis and had to throw inexperienced youngsters into the XV, which in the long term should hold them in good stead, but was catastrophic as they flirted with relegation. It went to the last game of the season before Wasps knew they were safe.
Prediction:
Better than last, but will still be a struggle to cement a string of wins together. Expect a topsy-turvy season for Wasps, but one where relegation should not be part of the equation. 9th.
Website: www.wasps.co.uk
Twitter: @WaspsRugby
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LondonWasps
Click here to join the Official Wasps Fans league on SuperBru

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WelshTeam: London Welsh
Coach: Lyn Jones
Ground: Kassam Stadium
Key players in:
Paulicia Ion (Irish), Kirill Kulemin (Castres), Neill Briggs (Bourgoin), Ed Williamson (Leeds), Daniel Browne (Grenoble), Matt Keyte (Bristol), Nick Runicman (Gloucester), Sonny Parker (Ospreys), Gavin Henson (unattached), Phil MacKenzie (Esher), Tom Arscott (Worcester) and Barry Davies (Ospreys).
Key players out:
Saul Nelson (Old Reds), Guillermo Roan (Cavalieri Prato), Gary Johnson (Cornish Pirates), Mike Powell (Moseley), Robert Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Paul Mackey (Rosslyn Park), Liam Gibson (Blackheath) and Will Hurrell (Rotherham).
Strengths:
Everything will be new to this club, and the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ comes to mind. Welsh’s team spirit and never say die attitude got them into the ‘promised land’ and through a fight with the RFU and they will need plenty of that spirit if they want stay up. Sonny Parker will add some international nous in the midfield and his experience will need to be utilised in every match.
Weaknesses:
It is a double-edged sword entering the Premiership for Welsh, as the glitz and glamour of finally being here will be coupled with a bump back down to earth. They could do with signing a few more experienced Aviva Premiership players to help the squad and could probably do without the distraction of the Amlin despite the glory tie of Stade Francais.
Player to watch:
Gavin Henson, who may have more female fans that rugby fans these days but is still a quality player. Jones said he had been ‘fannying around for the last few years,’ but also that ‘he is blessed with immense talent.’ Whether he is still of the same quality of a few years ago is debatable, but like London Welsh, he has a lot to prove.
Last season:
Promotion via the Championship, beating Cornish Pirates in the final. Deserved their shot at the big time.
Prediction:
They might have deserved their shot, but Welsh will struggle to hold onto it. A short and sharp visit into the Aviva Premiership for Welsh I suspect. 12th
Website: www.london-welsh.co.uk/
Twitter: @LondonWelshRFC
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/London-Welsh-RFC/220334235416
Click here to join the London Welsh Fans league on SuperBru

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NorthamptonTeam: Northampton Saints
Coach: Jim Mallinder
Ground: Franklin’s Gardens
Key players in:
Sam Dickinson (Rotherham), Gerrit-Jan van Velze (Bulls), James Wilson (Bourgoin), Luther Burrell (Sale), Domininc Waldouck (Wasps) and Ken Pisi (North Harbour).
Key players out:
Andy Long (Retired), Roger Wilson (Ulster), James Downey (Munster), Jon Clarke (Worcester), Chris Ashton (Saracens) and Greig Tonks (Edinburgh).
Strengths:
Their pack is huge and has dominated the Aviva Premiership for the past few seasons. Their prowess up front allows Lee Dickson to play off front-foot ball and give the side impetus. Behind the scrum they have either Steven Myler or Ryan Lamb, two excellent fly-halves on their day, and Vasily Artemyev the flying Russian winger.
Weaknesses:
Last season they seemed to lose their way with the hype surrounding Mallinder and the England job. Now that’s gone they should be a lot more solid. Chris Ashton’s loss will not be felt immediately but in the latter part of the season when tries are harder to come by he could be missed, whilst both Lamb and Myler are confidence players and can self-combust which is always an issue for Saints fans.
Player to watch:
Ben Foden is still the best full-back in the Premiership and should be in contention for the Lions squad with a good season under his belt. A fit and healthy Courtney Lawes will be a huge boost for the squad as well, and he could be another potential Lion whose form will be instrumental in how Northampton fare this season.
Last season:
Scraped into the Premiership play-offs and lost in a close-fought semi-final to the eventual winners Harlequins. Pretty decent season although losing the LV Cup final to Leicester was bound to hurt.
Prediction:
More of the same this season. They will be closer to the teams above them pushing them all the way, but I predict a 4th place again for the Saints.
Website: www.northamptonsaints.co.uk
Twitter: @SaintsRugby
Facebook: www.facebook.com/OfficialNorthamptonSaints
Click here to join the Saints Fans league on SuperBru

12 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team-by-Team Guide: Part 3

  1. I reckon this will be the table

    1. Northampton Saints
    2. Leicester Tigers
    3. Harlequins
    4. Saracens
    5. Sale Sharks
    6. Exeter Chiefs
    7. London Irish
    8. Gloucester Rugby
    9. Bath Rugby
    10. London Wasps
    11. Worcester Warriors
    12. London Welsh

    1. Saints at the top is a big shout, particularly when you compare their ‘Players In’ list with the ‘Players Out’ – some real stalwarts have left. Don’t disagree with your top 4, but will be interesting to see the order.

  2. Personally I’m not sure Saints will finish in the top 4. I think Exeter were awesome last season, and could prove difficult. But I think Sale will be tough to beat this season, and I predict them to get the no. 4 spot.
    1. Harlequins
    2. Leicester
    3. Saracens
    4. Sale

    1. What do you see at Sale that makes you think they’ll be a top 4 side? I agree they’ll be tough to beat and hopefully they’ll make their new home a great rugby venue, but I’m just interested in where you think they’ve made big improvements.

      1. I think now that Diamond has settled back in, Redpath on board at his old club, and the return of Cipriani to the Premiership. Cipriani really has something to prove this season. There were moments of brilliance from them last season, and then some real bad moments as well. Seymour as the new captain, is another player with something to prove. Could this be his season to break into the England side as an out and out 7?

        1. Steve Diamond is a crackpot and a tyrant who is using Sale (my apologies, ‘The Sharks’) as his own personal vanity project but doesn’t seem to realise that unless they actually get some numbers through the gate and a realistic support base then all the money for that is going to dry up pretty quickly.

      2. Sale have signed one of the best players on the planet!! Danny himself is a game changer especially as sale picked up well last season

  3. I’d like to think Saints will finish top but I’d be very disappointed if we don’t make top 4 with slightly less last minute drama than last year!

    In terms of the ins and outs I think the high profile loss in Cashton will be the leat missed, there are a lot of wing options with Elliot hopefully back fit and a few new lads in. I think they’ve solved a big problem in covering for Foden with James Wilson coming in. If the new South African performs well in filling Wilson’s boots it’s game on!

    I think Quins may struggle slightly more than last year but should still do top 4. No sane man would bet against Tigers making top 4 but I wouldn’t put a huge amount on Saracens making it this season. It looks like they’re trying to come away from the limited style of the last few seasons and expand their game which is always tricky.

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