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The Premiership and next few seasons
Andy1210 (IP Logged)
15 April, 2018 22:33
Interested in thoughts on this. I’ve been mulling over where the Premiership is actually heading in recent weeks. The guy who sits next to me who has been a Wasps fan for 40 odd years echoed my thoughts yesterday when he said he thought the AP has been a dull two horse race this season, and is likely to remain like that for the foreseeable.

I watched the Sarries game today and they were simply too powerful and clinical for Bath. I skimmed through most of it as it lacked any sense of excitement. Exeter thumped a revitalised Irish (who we failed to pick up a TBP against home or away) and are powering away at the top now with alarming ease.

Add into the mix the most complaints I’ve seen regarding officiating - a number quite justified - odd citings from citing officials, bizarrely inconsistent bans from disciplinary boards, and the powers that be generally letting the players and fans down by loose applications of the laws - eg the acceptance of Mako Vunipola not getting his mandatory rest today.

We currently head the also rans desperately hanging onto the Chiefs/Sarries coat tales, but the reality of a play off away to either is little more than a lost cause. Then there’s this season’s European debacle...

We are mercurial. We had a great season last year, topping the table (just) and making the final, but we’ve slipped backwards this season due to a season long injury crisis, a couple of poor home performances, some predictable away defeats and a lack of killer instinct at vital times. Tigers and Bath are equally inconsistent and liable to brilliance or ‘game farts’; Glaws and Falcons are on the march into the also rans with Sale close behind - yet no one has the consistency to challenge the big two.

I just feel Exeter get better and better every year and are easing away from their rivals. Someone told me they only have one injury at the moment, so their whole set up - profit, academy, coaching, scouting and conditioning is the pinnacle of excellence - are they becoming untouchable? Sarries are the only side capable of upsetting them, and they have a big squad of talented players and a little help from the RFU and England set up.

It’s beginning to feel like two teams going through the motions in a controlled and clinical way, whilst the rest of us make up the numbers and scrap for the right to have a pop at one of the big two.

Does this bode well for the future of the AP and is a genuine contender to the Chiefs/Sarries dominance likely to emerge soon?

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
wombles222 (IP Logged)
15 April, 2018 22:49
To be fair it is cyclical, and likely will be that way as long as we maintain a salary cap. Remove that, and you will remove most of the competition.

Both Bath in the amateur days, Tigers, Us, Sarries, and possibly now Chiefs have had sustained periods of winning. If you look back, teams such as Richmond and Blackheath were big players. It is easy to say it is lacking competitiveness, but teams will rise and fall, it has always been thus and will continue to do so.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Andy1210 (IP Logged)
15 April, 2018 23:19
Great points Wombles and I hope you’re right. I guess it never felt so staid and clinical in those days - there seemed to be a lot more characters and epic head to heads.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
OxfordWasps (IP Logged)
15 April, 2018 23:53
Teams come and go that is the way with sport, I wouldn't be too worried. If you look at us from 02/03-07/08 we were champions 4 times, and at that point it was probably inconceivable that we would nearly be relegated 4 years later.

Take Exeter, I expect they will suffer more and more with England call ups in coming years, I expect the likes of Williams, Hepburn, Cowan Dickie, Ewers, Armand, Simmondsx2, Slade, Nowell all to be around the squad in the forthcoming years. On top of that sooner or later they will work out how to apply there league form to Europe and start going further in that competition, which will in turn will test there squad even more. It is also not inconceivable that Baxter will be given the England job in the near future and I think Exeter will struggle to replace him.

Uncertainty can also be levelled at Saracens, they have just had a 50% shareholder pull out of the club, so its probably a fair assumption that Nigel Wray will want to reduce the losses the clubs make, both for his own back pocket and to make the club a better proposition for a new investor, which theoretically will mean a smaller and/or worse squad. Also if Baxter doesn't get the England job then Mark McCall must also be high on the list of people to replace Eddie.

So as I said I would not worry to much, I think you are right that it is quite likely that these two will remain in and around the top of the league for the next two or so season, but I don't think its quite as cut and dry as you make out. Ultimately if we had not had such a bad start then we would be right in the mix and I expect the like of Bath, Gloucester and Leicester will get there act together next year and start playing at the levels that there squads should be able to perform at.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Anonymous User (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 00:01
On the other hand, Falcons now look like a genuine contender to rattle the top 4...and signing the likes of mulipola isn't going to dampen that.

Tigers look a team ready to contend again next season.

We are there or thereabouts after a really rough year.

Glaws have had a decent year 1 for Ackermann. Add a few more signings and they'll be pushing top 6. Sale too.

And saints. Bath and quins can't all stay this bad forever.

Meanwhile chiefs are in cruise control but sarries seem to have lost a little lustre this year and they have some squad regeneration to do as guys like Wyles retire and the likes of Bosch, wiggy etc probably don't have too long left. And Koch is back on the bok radar.

I thjnk next year could be pretty interesting. Not least because at chiefs they may finally have to contend with Armand and Simmonds being picked for England, Waldron and salvi gone, and their whole first choice front row now firmly in position for England with Williams probably 2nd choice behind sinckler, LCD now pushing George, and Hepburn pushing genge and mako.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
westwaleswasp (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 01:06
Exeter have not had a sustained period of winning.
Bath
Tigers
Wasps
Sarries

Multiple titles, champions of Europe. Capable of beating the best in Europe away from home.

Chiefs are a long way from that dominance.


One rule change or interpretation and a winning style can suddenly get found out. I am expecting Chiefs to get better recognition England wise, their squad will become more stretched and they need to work out away of winning in Europe, because their brand of phase play and set piece won't beat the Leinster of this world. They might do it, but we will have to wait.

As for Wasps... We might be Bath of a couple of years ago in disguise, a brief flash in the pan that can be wrestled out if it by more organised teams like Sarries and Chiefs, but I feel we are better equipped in Europe than Chiefs. I suspect our record over the last two to three years in Europe is comparable if not better, the teams we have beaten include the best like Toulon, Leinster etc. and some of the margins have been impressive.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 16/04/2018 13:42 by westwaleswasp.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
RossM (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 08:12
Exe and Sarries? They'll get worked out. They'll also have increased International callups, Exe in particular. Also long term injuries and personnel changes. And neither have done much in Europe this year which will in fact be a help. However next year, they'll both want to do better. War on two fronts is always harder.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
AKWasp (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 08:39
Let’s see where we’re at this time next year with hopefully a much better injury record. I think we’ll be a lot closer to Exeter and Saracens than many will expect

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
StevieWasp (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 08:42
I agree that everyone has their few years at the top.
With Exeter, I really feel that when Steenson hangs up his boots, they'll end up changing their style slightly to accommodate the next FH.
That kind of change always causes teams problems

They've always looked like a different team with Slade at 10

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Chilham (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 09:07
Chiefs have lost 25% of their matches this season, including at home to Warriors. Saracens have lost more. I don't see us as, "Also-rans". We lost two close matches, against two good teams, each by a point. If it were not for that, we'd be on the same points as Sarries. The nature of those defeats, warrants some reflection, but doesn't in my view, define our season.

Our biggest challenge is meeting expectations. Yes, we have budget, yes we have resource, and yes, we have talent and on occasion, play the best rugby in the premiership, yet none of those things in and of themselves, necessarily make a championship winning side. I hate the phrase, but Saracens have created a 'dynasty', much as we did 15 years ago. They've been dominant across all competitions for several seasons. Chiefs may be on their way to achieving the same. Can Wasps do it? I don't know.

Sarries rose to prominence at a time when the dominant teams of four or five seasons ago like Bath, Saints and Tigers seemed to be fading. To a certain degree, they changed the game, playing a brand of rugby with so much intensity, they strangled and blew other teams off the pitch Chiefs have been a revelation, getting to the top without the use of mega-budget signings. I applaud them for everything they've achieved. It would be great to see a Premiership in which no team runs away with the title. That there are now two teams on top of the pile, is good. I think we're nearly there. Don't get me wrong, we're not there yet, but I think it's not as far off as some might think. Here's to Falcons, Tigers, Sale, Saints, Glaws, in fact to anybody to join us challenge the top two.

I've often pondered if there would be some merit in introducing a 'seeding' system, where the top four from the Premiership were drawn against the bottom four during the following season's International windows. True, not all of the International players come from the top four clubs, but it might provide some degree of 'levelling'.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Hangover (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 09:35
I disagree about the dullness of the Prem, yes there were a couple of humpings this weekend. But there was also 301 points scored to a variety of teams and you can't say Falcons v Sharks or the Tigers v Saints were dull.

Bath had a fair amount of ball and fought hard but just can't go through the phases (remind you of anyone ?). I think I heard a stat that said 77% of their attacks fail in under 5 phases because they knock on, drop it etc etc. At some point Blackadder will fix that (hopefully for him).

As has rightly been said the Prem changes every few years and I'm sure that will continue. Sarries and Exeter are the best at the moment but they are far from unbeatable. We need to improve a couple of facets from our game (defence & accuracy) and then we will be a real force to be reckoned with again I believe.

I feel the Prem is in pretty good shape, it would be better if the majority of clubs were breaking even but hopefully that will come - personally think the cap MUST stay.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Hangover (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 09:37
ps agree about the officiating - still to many errors being made.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
BH90 (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 10:26
Did the original poster share a box with Heathen, in the Muppets Show?

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Barnetsarrie12 (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 10:28
I think it is an interesting thread. I think the first thing to call out is I don't think you can put Exeter in the category of Sarries or Bath or Leicester or Wasps yet as they have only won one title, they might get there but they are not there yet.

I do think though that there is a gap between Exeter/Sarries and the rest of the league, I don't think there is any gap between Sarries and Exeter and especially with all of our injured forwards returning for the run in, I still back us to win a final against them as we have had a ridicolous amount of injuries in the forwards this year plus call ups but our strongest 23 will all be fit for the play offs and I still think we have the strongest team.

As for Wasps, I do think you are close and you can win a game against one of the two teams but your record in recent years against us is not that great and I doubt you can go to Exeter and win in the playoffs or Allianz, I do think the gap I have noticed is from the Front 5 and I think Exeter, Sarries and Leicester have a better front 5 than Wasps, the rest of your team is comparable to those two teams, I think the gap I see is in the power in the forwards that Exeter, Sarries and even Leicester possess and I don't think you will win the premiership until you bridge that gap

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Hangover (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 10:38
Barnet - if you want to talk about injuries, do you think our forwards would be weak if we had Mullan, Tommy Taylor, Jack Cooper W, Launch, Symons, Willis, Youngs, Hughes fit and starting with say Cruse, McIntrye, Moore, Myall, Ash, Thompson coming off the bench. Unfortunately we have never had our full powered forwards all fit this year (or last).

I agree we could do with some back-up at tighthead, but if this lot could ever get fit together I think they can match anyone in the Prem - only problem is IF ;-)

You and Exeter do seem to be peaking at the right time again.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Barnetsarrie12 (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 10:49
You make a good point Hangover, don't get me wrong, I am not saying your forwards are weak, far from it and you have had injury issues, all I am saying is when I look at the Front 5's across the league, I would personally have you behind those 3 teams but it is not a massive difference, not at all.

I also think some of the injuries have been a blessing in disguise for you as it has been for us, Willis is a fantastic talent and it has been good to see him come through and also Tom Cruse who is also fantastic.


I agree with you about peaking at the right time, we are very lucky that Duncan Taylor has now come back and he is very important for defensively in the backs, Rhodes is back, Billy and Koch should also be back by next week so we are playing well and getting guys back at the right time, Exeter is also playing very well at the moment, the playoffs should be really good

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
CB Wasp (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 11:55
Quote:
Barnetsarrie12
You make a good point Hangover, don't get me wrong, I am not saying your forwards are weak, far from it and you have had injury issues, all I am saying is when I look at the Front 5's across the league, I would personally have you behind those 3 teams but it is not a massive difference, not at all.
I also think some of the injuries have been a blessing in disguise for you as it has been for us, Willis is a fantastic talent and it has been good to see him come through and also Tom Cruse who is also fantastic.


I agree with you about peaking at the right time, we are very lucky that Duncan Taylor has now come back and he is very important for defensively in the backs, Rhodes is back, Billy and Koch should also be back by next week so we are playing well and getting guys back at the right time, Exeter is also playing very well at the moment, the playoffs should be really good

You make good points here Barnet, We often concede ground quite easily when facing a strong carrying front 8, despite our obvious bravery in defence. We also do not score forward tries so easily when 10 yards away from the line. We do however have a different way of playing and our lines in attack including back row forwards linking with backs are superior to anyone in the league. One exception for you guys is Schalk Brits who is great at making breaks and linking with the backs, you will miss him. Our strength in attack means that we can of course win one off games against you and Exeter, especially with Cips playing at his best, but without our biggest ball carriers like Nathan and enforcers like Matt Symons, I believe that we will struggle to get enough go forward and also to defend close to our line.

You have Rhodes on his way back again, who I rate highly and saw as a very similar player to Sam Jones, such a pity that we will not see the 2 of them playing against each other!

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Barnetsarrie12 (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 12:59
Great post CBWasp, I agree totally. Rhodes might well be our most important player and I truly believe, although slightly biased that he is the best 6 in England, he reminds me so much of Juan Smith and he provides so much for us defensively and in attack, I would be very surprised if he is not playing for England in the autumn.

Massive shame about Sam Jones, everything around that story is such a massive pity and hopefully he does well whatever else he chooses to do in life, I do think Willis is someone to watch, I really like him in that 6 jersey and he could very well be the long term 6 there for England, a bit like Isiekwe, the injuries has allowed you guys to discover him and give him game time and it will be interesting to see the back row next season when the NZ flanker Shields comes over as he is also a 6

I do agree with your other points, your attack is the best in the league and you can create something from nothing way more than anyone in the league, where you fall short is sometimes when you meet an organised defense like ours for example and you have to constantly get runners over the gain line, you tend to struggle with that as you don't have as many big ball carriers as you have rightly said

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
Bzzzz (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 13:26
Correct me if I am wrong Andy1210, but was this post brought about by seeing Sarries destroy Bath and see Exeter do the Irish so easily... and wondering what's the point of coming 3rd or 4th because inevitably sarries or Ex will be the ultimate winners, unless we can somehow find a way to nullify them, once in the semi and again in the final.

Sarries looked good against Bath, but Bath were rubbish. Their inaccuracy killed their game.

What the two top teams have is the ability to concentrate for 80 mins, to lift their game at the right time and to never switch off. their line speed is intense, if not offside.... and their tackling is always meaningful.

If Wasps, Tigers, Falcons could keep that level of intensity and 100% concentration going for 80+ mins we could beat any team. The problem is that we all lose concentration and it all goes badly from then. Sarries and Ex know when this happens and lift their intensity to a level too high to compete with.

it isn't all about power it is more to do with the mental strengths of the individual players playing as a team and the more I witness It the more I admire it, whilst not particularly enjoying they game from an entertainment perspective.

What we have to have is 23 players with 100% commitment, 100% intensity in their line speed and tackling, able to concentrate 100% for 80 mins. I have not seen Wasps do that this season yet. We need to do it in the next few games.

 
Re: The Premiership and next few seasons
John Tee (IP Logged)
16 April, 2018 13:42
I think Wasps are indeed a tad short up front. Mitigation is injuries and with a small squad, this compounds the issue. We can beat anyone but are also fallible where the top two teams aren't often.
There is no chance I'd want to want those top two teams though...but...credit where credit is due.
If the law makers wanted more open running rugby, they need to legislate for it. I think the SH game has that balance right whereas in the NH, the power game in the EPL is the winner. Having said that, the other leagues don't seem to suffer as much accommodating it..??

Wasps need to carry away the silverware and show the way forward in terms of style. Easier said than done tho.

The bet is who will be closer next year to the top two....assuming that remains Chiefs and Saracens..

Losing key players for those teams seems less of an issue that say, Wasps who have suffered from Cips being out, plus Launch and certainly Hughes..to name a few.
Wasps can't absorb those missing so easily at all.

I think Wasps can be genuine top 3 with a fair crack of luck with injuries and call up.
I'm sure Tigers et Al think they can improve as well.
They may consider they've had an underperforming season as it is. Bath and Saints seem adrift at this point from the middle order.

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