The wait is nearly over, and the 2021/22 Premiership season begins on September 17. A glance at the latest betting odds has Saracens as the favourites to win the title. Back after a season in the Championship, can they return to the Premiership and win another title?
Saracens haven’t won the Premiership since the 2018/19 season. The title they won that year was the fourth in five years. Betting against them winning another title looked a rather foolish act. They might have been hard to beat on the pitch, but it was their off-the-pitch activities that led to their downfall.
After breaching salary cap regulations, their days at the top of the table came to an end. 2019/20 saw them win 13 games but still end up bottom and relegated. The odds on making the play-offs do rather increase when you are deducted a total of 105 points.
Last season saw them in the Championship and the play-offs weren’t exactly close. Those betting on Ealing Trailfinders (who’d finished top of the regular season) were never in the hunt in the two-legged final. Saracens won by an aggregate score of 117-15 and back into the Premiership they went.
Bookies have Saracens just ahead of Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership betting. Third favourites are Bristol Bears, followed by Sale Sharks and defending champions Harlequins. You can bet it’s going to be an exciting season, but can Saracens justify their odds and reclaim their crown?
With all the problems concerning the salary cap, relegation and promotion, it’s been similar in a way to the situation that Rangers faced in Scottish football. They were relegated and had to fight their way back to the top and are now champions again.
One important task that Saracens had was keeping their best players at the club. It could easily have been a mass exodus by players only interested in playing Premiership rugby. However, the club have kept the services of players such as Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly.
With Saracens justifying the short odds and making an immediate return, their loyalty has been rewarded. Keeping the players of the future has also been important for Saracens. Those who went out on loan are now back at the club and raring to go for the new season. With such a strong line-up, it’s clear to see why sportsbooks aren’t too keen on offering high odds on a 2021/22 title triumph.
Now there’s even more hard work ahead as the bookie’s favourites try to regain their place at the top of the English game. their director of rugby, Mark McCall says that “time will tell if we can challenge this season.” You can bet they will give it a good try though.
A good start to the new season isn’t guaranteed. Their players who were in South Africa for the Lions tour won’t be available. That will give us a chance to see how strong their set of players are.
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If Saracens are going to win the Rugby Premiership, they will have to dethrone current champions Harlequins. The odds aren’t in favour of them retaining their title. Winning a title is never easy in the first place, defying the odds and clinching another title is even more difficult.
Their new head coach is Tabai Matson who formerly coached the New Zealand under-20s team. Considering they managed to win the Premiership last season without a full time head coach since January, what can they do with one in charge?
New signings for their title defence include Tonga back-row forward Villami Taulani and Jack Walker who left Bath during the summer. They form part of a squad that has plenty of experience and talented youth, often the key ingredients of success. Defying the odds and winning another title is going to be tough though.
Harlequins needed two late tries to edge past Exeter Chiefs in the play-off final. The Chiefs were in their sixth straight Twickenham final. It’s almost a tradition that they end up in the final each year.
Sportsbooks have Exeter as the second favourites to win the Premiership. Looking ahead to the new season, Centre Henry Slade says they are “gone back to basics” to try and get their Premiership title back. “Working hard and just getting back down to the nitty-gritty of things really,” he added. A bit harsh considering how close they came to winning the title last season. He did talk about there being “a slight sense of complacency” last season.
Bristol Bears finished top of the Premiership table, three points clear of Exeter and from a game less. The odds are in favour of them again being title challengers. They suffered heartbreak last seasons when losing to Harlequins (12 points behind them in the table) in the play-off semi-finals. When you lead 28-5 and lose in extra-time, that takes a bit of time to get over.
They will be the first team to play Saracens this season. They host the former champions on September 17. It’ll be an interesting battle in what promises to be another fascinating season of rugby.