Aviva Premiership 2013-14 Predictions

The new rugby season kicks off this Friday with the newly promoted Newcastle at home to Bath, before the rest of the teams get stuck in on Saturday with Leicester and Worcester rounding things off on the Sunday afternoon. And yes, I do know that there is more than one ‘rugby’, but for this blog it is rugby and rugby league.

With the new season about to start, it is time for me to nail my colours to the mast with some predictions. At this stage the predictions are for the final league table (being a Gloucester fan there is a tendency to think of that as the real prize, and the Premiership Final at Twickenham as just a post-season bash…) Rather than a post per prediction type, I have combined a Pythagorean prediction based on last season, bookmaker odds, media comment and my own ‘gut call’ to come up with a final prediction.

Pythagorean Prediction

This doesn’t really offer any major shake-up at the top, Leicester and Saracens were still well clear. However, Exeter came in fourth demoting both Northampton and Gloucester. That would indicate that Exeter’s points, and position, didn’t reflect their performances last season. At the other end Sale would have finished bottom. That could be a major concern if their form doesn’t improve, but Worcester might take hope from their expectation of 9th place based on their performances. For anyone interested, the exponent that I used was 1.28, and the points multiplies 2.82 – although that resulted in a minimised RMSE it doesn’t ‘feel’ right. That is why this is the base level for the predictions!

Bookmakers and Media

I have combined these two as they effectively reflect both ‘expert’ and ‘market’ opinion. And they are in agreement when it comes to a table topped by Leicester and followed by Saracens, with quite a gap to the rest. Northampton appear as the consensus for third, with Gloucester and Harlequins fighting for the other play-off place. The mid table positions are occupied by Bath, Exeter, Wasps and Sale with the consensus appearing to be that Sale will be much improved this season. London Irish, Newcastle and Worcester appear to be cast adrift as the relegation candidates for this season. Assuming an absence of unregistered players, fake blood or other shenanigans it is very close to call between them.

Gut Call

I’ll admit that my gut call is probably influenced by the other analysis that I have done, and so is not a truly independent variable here. But I don’t think many prediction systems – mathematical or emotional – would disagree with Leicester and Saracens dominating the league, although I am sure some would disagree with my call that Leicester will win the title. For the other play-off places I tip Gloucester for third and ‘Quins for fourth. Here the bias is probably clear! That said, Gloucester have strengthened what was already a very solid team, and only a lack of consistency prevented them from the play-offs. Predicting third relies on that consistency coming good this season, with Burns, May, Kvesic et al all working well together – if not for third read sixth. Harlequins still have a very solid team, but appeared to wobble a bit last season. I think they have enough to edge Northampton, but only just. Northampton are the counter to Gloucester; new signings could lead this team to dominate with North as the main focal point, but I think they may suffer from absences at key moments (international duty or (yet another) suspension). If they get it right, they’ll swap places with Gloucester easily. Exeter and then Wasps will secure sixth and seventh. Both are improving, although I fear European rugby might have more of an impact on Exeter’s resources. Wasps are moving forward on and off the pitch after skirting with the near disaster of relegation, but the forward line still shows weakness. Bath and Sale should secure eighth and ninth, but both are in precarious positions. Bath don’t appear to be moving at all, and Henson is not the most solid of foundations to build on even when he isn’t being punched out by his teammates in the pub. Sale desperately need a decent start to put last year’s woeful times behind them (shame they are away to Gloucester then; perhaps they can win their second match!). As with Bath, one mercurial talent may be the key – will the real Danny Cipriani please stand up? And at the bottom I think that Newcastle will come into the Premiership knowing what they need to do to survive and with a much more solid foundation than London Welsh could manage last season. I see them doing enough to secure tenth. Worcester could struggle this year, and in many ways I think the loss of Goode will be the biggest impact a player’s departure (or arrival) has this season. He was Worcester in many ways, and for a team that has made many changes in order to ‘push on’, they risk a backward step. Nonetheless, I do believe that they will have enough to push London Irish into the relegation position. LI had a bit of a nightmare last season, but they have lost some very good players which will only make things more difficult. They may finish bottom of the table, but similarly I think it is less likely that a team will be allowed to promote so they may be timing their bad run well!


Combining all of the above, the predicted final table is:




Leicester Tigers












London Wasps




Sale Sharks


Worcester Warriors


Newcastle Falcons


London Irish

Hell, even I don’t agree with some of that! Convinced that Worcester will be lower and Gloucester higher. Oh well, have to wait and see how accurate it ends up being.


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