2018/19 Premiership: Confirmed Transfers review

As we approach the final regular season weekend of the 2017/18 season, it seems a long way away from the start of next season, but before you know it, it’ll be here and we’ll all be delighted. Whilst there is still a lot to happen at the end of this season like how will Newcastle get on in the Playoffs, will Exeter retain their title and will Saracens and Wasps be able to deliver the game winning performances we all know they can on their day.

But as we look ahead to next season, I’ll take you through some of the big moves and how they’ll affect each team going into next years campaign.

Bath:

Bath have had somewhat of an indifferent campaign this season, missing out on the top 6 due to inconsistency. We’ve seen they can put in a performance when needed, take last weekend’s 43-20 win at rivals Gloucester for example. But they haven’t been able to deliver it week in week out which has been their downfall.

The big confirmed news ahead of next season is the loss of Matt Banahan to Gloucester. It’ll devastate their fans to see the powerful winger moving up the road to the old rival, especially as Banahan seems to be completely rejuvenated as of late, and is putting in some outstanding performances and scoring some great tries. They will be be bolstered however, by former Lion Jamie Roberts, who is set to join from Quins next season. Roberts will add physicality alongside Jonathan Joseph in the centre to create a deadly partnership both in defence and attack. Will Chudley is also set to join from Exeter Chiefs. The scrum half was part of the Chiefs side that won the league last year and will be good addition as competition to Kahn Fortuali’i at 9.

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Bristol Bears:

Having won the Championship as most people expected, the next challenge for the newly named ‘Bears’ will be to assert themselves as a consistent Premiership side. Pat Lam has been working hard to bring in a whole range of players to deliver the next level for the Bristol side. Charles Piatau is sure to make a massive impact at Ashton Gate as he comes in from Ulster, and John Afoa will be bringing his impressive skills and his experience to the side. Harry Thacker will be joining too, as well as impressive pacey scrum-half Harry Randall from Gloucester. The former Ealing trio of Lewis ThiedePiers O’Conor and Luke Daniels will be hoping to make the step up to the Premiership at the Bears.

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Dan TuohySoane Tonga’uiha and David Lemi are among a number of players that will be leaving the club during the summer.

Exeter Chiefs: 

It’s no surprise really that Rob Baxter hasn’t felt the need to go out and secure loads of new signings for next year. With only Alex Cuthbert having been announced so far, it looks like the Chiefs are following the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

They are a side that is dominating the Premiership for the second year in a row, following their title win last year. With the likes of the Simmonds brothers playing so well, a pack that are reliable and a team well drilled in every aspect, Exeter don’t need much change to be honest. Cuthbert will add some physicality and power in depth on the wing. With the likes of Jack Nowell and Olly Woodburn already occupying the wing spots, Cuthbert will add some good competition to help the Chiefs grow even further. As well as Will Chudley leaving for Bath, Thomas Waldrom will also be departing to Wellington Lions in New Zealand, which will be a loss to the side as he has been a solid member of the Chiefs pack.

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Gloucester Rugby:

Gloucester’s first year under Johan Ackermann can be considered a huge step forward and success. With the brilliant first half of the season which saw them compete at the top end of the table, a few disappointing results have cost them from finishing in the top four, but having already secured Champions Cup rugby next season and a Challenge Cup final against Cardiff in just over a week’s time, Ackermann and Humphreys can be pleased with the building blocks they have put in place throughout the season.

Gloucester will be looking to add to this seasons performance and push on even more next year. With the addition of Matt Banahan from Bath, they certainly will get a very good physical winger, in the style of Ackermann’s hard running expansive game he likes to see. Ruan Ackermann will be joined in the back row by one of his former Lions teammates, with Jaco Kriel having been announced by the club earlier this week. The back-rower will certainly add more power to the already talented back row that includes, Jake Polledri, Lewis Ludlow, Ruan Ackermann and Ben Morgan. They have also secured the signing of South African hooker Franco Marais for next season.

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Gloucester will also be saying goodbye to a number of high profile players, seeing John Afoa move down the M5 to Bristol Bears as well as young scrum-half Harry Randall. Welsh pair Ross Moriarty and Richard Hibbard will be moving across the border to the Dragons, whilst Matt Scott is departing to Edinburgh. David Halaifonua will be joining up with the newly promoted Championship side, Coventry.

Harlequins:

It’s not been the best of seasons for the Quins, with a disappointing end to the season which has seen John Kingston set to leave as DoR at the end of the season. The club have not announced a replacement, however, Scott Robertson of the Crusaders is being heavily linked with the job. Harlequins also announced a link with the New Zealand RFU earlier in the season, which could open the door for some exciting All Black imports to the Stoop.

Whilst we already know that Jamie Roberts will be leaving the club for Bath, Quins have made some signings ahead of the next year, including Nathan Earle from Saracens, making the move across London. Bath pair Nick Auterac and Ben Tapuai will join the Quins ahead of the new campaign. They will be hoping that the side can recapture some of it’s lost success under whoever the new DoR and Head Coach is.

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Leicester Tigers:

After a somewhat tricky start to the season, Tigers recovered to nearly finish in the top four, but just fell short, losing in the last minute to Newcastle last week. Tigers’ recruitment policy has been criticised by some people in recent years, with people questioning the decision to let people like Ed Slater and Nicky Goneva leave to Premiership rivals, whilst George Ford hasn’t exactly lit the world alight for the Tigers this year. Matt O’Connor will be keen for his side to be stronger in the pack next season.

With an eye on this, they have already confirmed the signing of David Denton from Worcester next season. The Scottish back-rower can add a high work rate and strong ball carrying and breakdown play for the Tigers next year. He’s joined by his Worcester teammate Will Spencer in the move to Welford Road as well as Guy Thompson from Wasps, who will also strengthen the pack for Leicester.

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Logovi’i Mulipola will be departing the club at the end of the year, as he’ll be heading north to join Goneva at Newcastle Falcons, as well as George McGuigan who will also be making the same move. Dom Barrow will be moving to East Midlands rivals Northampton Saints, whilst Harry Thacker is on his way to Bristol Bears.

Newcastle Falcons:

What a season it has been for the team from the North East! Dean Richards’ side have managed to secure their first ever playoff spot in the Premiership, and will be hoping to cause an upset in an attempt to win the trophy this year. With the impact that Gary Graham and Nicky Goneva among others has had on the side, they seem to be playing some great rugby and pulling off some brilliant victories to propel themselves into the upper echelons of English rugby, which has been great to see!

The Falcons advent confirmed many moves yet, but Logovi’i Mulipola from Leicester Tigers will surely be a great addition to side. Mulipola brings with him a wealth of experience and power to add to the Newcastle scrum. His Tigers teammate George McGuigan will also provide more cover in the front row for the Falcons next season. They have also confirmed that Tom Arscott will join and provide more depth on the wing.

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DTH Van der Merwe is among the departures from Kingston Park, as he moves on to Glasgow Warriors. Juan Pablo Socino will also be moving over the border to Edinburgh.

Northampton Saints: 

It’s been a tumultuous season for the Saints, and the summer is set to be an interesting one at Franklins Gardens as the club looks to rebuild and come back stronger next year. With Jim Mallinder’s departure during the season, Alan Gaffney came in and steadied the ship to some extent, but the club will be hoping for more success and Chris Boyd joins the club in the summer from the Hurricanes in Super Rugby.

Dan Biggar is the headline mover for the Saints, and they’ll hope he can provide a much needed boost at a position they’ve slightly lacked in with Stephen Myler recently. Taqele Naiyarvoro comes in from NSW Waratahs, and his power and pace on the wing will surely provide a spark at the Gardens with George North set to depart too. Ben Franks will come in to provide some very experienced scrummaging to the Saints pack. Andy Symons from Gloucester and Dom Barrow from Leicester will also bolster their side even more.

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Ben Foden is amongst the many names leaving this summer, having made over 250 appearances for the club, it’ll be a disappointment to see him leave for Saints fans. The sad loss of Rob Horne from rugby is an unplanned exit that Saints are going to have to deal with looking ahead to next year, whilst Sam Dickinson, Ben Nutley, Christian Day and Nic Groom are all leaving the club this summer.

Sale Sharks:

There hasn’t been too much news surrounding next seasons signings yet from the Salford club. They have announced that Joe Jones, will be bolstering their prop ranks from Perpignan in the summer, as well as the addition of lock James Phillips from Bath. Rumours have been circling regarding possibly signing the former Ulster duo Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, however the club have denied the rumours.

As far as departures go, Mike Haley will be moving to Munster, as he looks to push his way into Johaan Van Graan’s side following Simon Zebo’s departure to Racing. Josh Charnley has already left the club to return to Rugby League, whilst Will Addison will join Haley in making a move to Ireland, as he joins Ulster as he is an Irish qualified player.

Sale have enjoyed a productive season this year under Steve Diamond and he’ll be hoping that with it looking likely they’ll narrowly miss out on the top six this season, that they go that one step further next time out.

Saracens:

Mark McCall’s men are once again in the hunt for the Premiership title once again this year, it’s no surprise with the wealth of talent they have at their disposal. However that hasn’t stopped them adding to their abundance of skill by adding two very dangerous winger to their team for next year. David Strettle is returning from Clermont to rejoin the North London side, whilst Alex Lewington will make the move across the capital from London Irish to the Allianz for next season.

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Nathan Earle will be heading to Quins, whilst club legends Schalk Brits and Chris Wyles are set to retire at the end of the season, having made nearly 500 club appearances between them.

Wasps:

It’s set to be a season of change at the Ricoh Arena this summer, with a number of high profile players moving onto pastures new. James Haskell and Danny Cipriani are both leaving the club to unknown destinations as of yet. Whilst Guy Thompson and Guy Armitage are moving to Leicester and Ealing respectively. Marty Moore will also be leaving for the Kingspan in Ulster.

The club have only made two announcements regarding incoming summer signings, but boy are they big ones to say the least. Brad Shields, will be joining from Hurricanes and is being tipped to be part of Eddie Jones’ England squad in the near future, due to his English heritage. The back rower comes with a massive reputation and will be hoping to hit the ground running next season. Wasps have also confirmed the signing of Lima Sopoaga. The highly rated All Black has 55 test points in 16 tests for New Zealand. Sopoaga is known for his creativity and flair and will surely be a more than capable replacement for Danny Cipriani.

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Worcester Warriors:

Having secured their Premiership status for another year, Worcester will be hoping that with incoming Head Coach Rory Duncan from the Cheetahs their fortunes will lift and that next season they won’t have to dragged into the relegation battle again. Also joining the club from the Cheetahs, is South African Centre, Francois Venter. Venter has made 7 appearances for the Springboks and the Warriors’ fans will be eager to see his impact next season. They have also confirmed that Jono Lance will be re-signing with the club at the end of the Super Rugby season. Lance was at Sixways on a short term deal earlier in the season and endeared himself to the fans with some great performances.

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Donncha O’Callaghan leads the departures for the Warriors, as he hung up his boots last weekend in an emotional farewell for the Ireland international who had done it all in rugby. David Denton and Will Spencer both are set to leave, as they head to the Leicester Tigers.

 

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