WEST GHANA/USA – With the Domestic season about to begin, it’s time for a RWU’s Fall Rugby Preview. Today, we’ll look at the Northern Hemisphere’s Top 14, Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect 12, Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup. Bookmark or save this article as we will dive in deeper over the next few weeks, including a Southern Hemisphere Fall Rugby Preview on Saturday. This can be your cheat sheet.
League: Top 14
Defending Champions: Toulouse
Season Length: August 17, 2012 – May 12, 2013 plus playoffs
Thoughts: It will be between the defending champs and last year’s runners up Toulon, Clermont and Montpeiller for the title.
League: Aviva Premiership
Defending Champions: Harlequins
Season Length: Sept 1, 2012 – May 4, 2013 plus playoffs
Thoughts: The top 3 likely favorites to win it all are Leicester Tigers, Harelquins again, and Saracens. The Dark horses are Sale Sharks, Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs. London Welsh most likely to get relegated.
Country: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy
League: RaboDirect 12
Defending Champions: Neath-Swansea Ospreys
Season Length: August 31, 2012 – May 4, 2013 plus playoffs
Thoughts: This league provided 3 of the teams in the Heineken Cup final and none of them were the League Champions. I lean toward Leinster but Ulster, Edinburgh and Neath-Swansea will be there or thereabouts.
Country: England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy
League: Heineken Cup
Defending Champions: Leinster
Season Length: October 12, 2012 – May 18, 2013
Thoughts: It will likely be Leinster, Ulster, Toulouse or Clermont. Harlequins have an outside chance. To compete in the European Champions League Cup (Heineken Cup) and stay competitive domestically will require a deep and healthy squad that is why I lean toward and Irish or French Side.
Country: England, France, Wales, Italy, Spain, and Romania
League: Amlin Challenge Cup
Defending Champions: Biarritz
Season Length: October 11, 2012 – May 17, 2013
Thoughts: This is the second tier competition to the Heineken Cup. You win it, you move on to the HEC. With no Biarritz, I see the winners likely to be Worcester, Gloucester or Stade Francais.
That is it for now, I will be back Saturday with the Southern Hemisphere Fall Rugby Preview. Until then you can find us on the Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page or on Twitter @JunoirBlaber and @RugbyWrapUp, respectively. And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.