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Grading each Premiership team’s season so far

This has been one of the strangest seasons in Premiership history, but it’s also seen arguably some of the best rugby we’ve seen in recent years.

This has been one of the strangest seasons in Premiership history, but it’s also seen arguably some of the best rugby we’ve seen in recent years.

English rugby is still reeling from the collapse of Worcester, Wasps and London Irish, which already gave this season a weird feeling; but when you throw in an eight week hiatus for the Six Nations it feels even more odd.

The 10 domestic clubs could be excused for a poor season on the pitch, with all the stuff going on off it, but it’s been anything but poor so far. We have one of the tightest title races in years, with just 12 points separating table toppers Northampton and seventh placed Sale, and only seven between second placed Harlequins and eight placed Bristol Bears.

All of the top eight will be hoping to reach the play-offs, and with just six games left in the regular season every game will feel like a cup final for some teams; but what about the league as a whole? With that in mind, here are our gradings of each Premiership’s team season so far.

Grading every Premiership club’s season so far

Northampton Saints: A+

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Phil Dowson’s side have had a brilliant campaign so far. Their attack is as fast paced and fluid as ever, spearheaded by the likes of Tommy Freeman, Alex Mitchell, Ollie Sleightholme and George Furbank; but this season it’s been their defence that’s propelled them to the top of the pile. They brought in former Rugby League man Lee Radford at the start of the season, and it seems his appointment has helped install a much tighter, and overall better, defensive system. There is still some way to go, but they look favourites to lift the title at Twickenham.

Harlequins: B+

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Quins have had a strong season so far, but they need to build a good run of wins together to fend off the chasing pack. Big wins over Sale, Newcastle and Exeter have been high points of their year, but that has come alongside a thrashing from Saracens and tough losses against fellow title chasers Bath and Northampton. They are still playing their typical flamboyant rugby, but like the team above them their defence has really helped them climb the table as they boast the best defence in the league.

Bath: A

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Giving them a better grade than Harlequins-who are above them-might seem odd, but the improvement at the Rec this season has been remarkable. Bath have had some dark times in recent seasons. They finished rock bottom in 2022, and only secured a top eight finish in the very last play of last season; but fast forward to the present day and they are right in the fight for the title. They might have taken their foot off the pedal a bit in recent fixtures, notably losing the thriller at Ashton Gate, but Bath fans will still be very happy with where their team are compared to last year. Like Quins though, they need to piece together a nice run of wins to hold onto their position in the table.

Saracens: B

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It could be seen as this mighty team on its last legs, but they haven’t been their typical selves this season. That says something more about how dominant they’ve been in the past more than anything, but it’s still a fact. Three loses in their last five games have hampered their gathering momentum, but a solid win against Exeter just before the break might give them some momentum heading into the last block of regular season matches.

Exeter Chiefs: B+

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The break probably came at the best time for Exeter. A lot was made of the players that left Sandy Park ahead of the 2023/2024 season, but the Chiefs’ new crop of talent are punching well above their weight this season. A large part of their success has been the return of their set-piece, which had began to falter in recent years. They did look like they had run out of steam in the last few games before the break, being pipped at the death by Northampton and then the loss to Saracens, but there has been plenty to smile about for the Devonians so far this season.

Leicester Tigers: B

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Leicester got off to a rocky start, but they are generating some solid momentum building into the run-in. One win from their first five games looked to have condemned them to a spot outside of the top four already; but they have since regrouped and found some a decent level of performance, winning four of their last five games before the break. A cup final would have also kept that same competitive buzz in camp during the break, and it could help them climb back up the table.

Sale Sharks: C

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Another team who might be thankful for the break. Sale had a torrid time in the run-in to the break, losing four of their last five fixtures, and this run has seen them fall down the table. Their attack has also not been firing at it’s full capabilities so far this season; they rank second bottom for points scored and currently have a -38 points difference (one of three teams to have a negative points difference). The break may have bought them some time to regroup and plot their charge back to the play-off spots though.

Bristol Bears: C

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In a similar vain to Leicester, a decent run of form going into the break has put them back in contention for the play-offs, but for a squad loaded with talent they should be much higher than they are. A run of five losses in a row between October and December derailed their early momentum, but some more consistent performances have helped to stop their free-fall. They have always been capable of playing the most exciting rugby in the Premiership, but they need to do this for a full 80 minutes if they want to reach the top four.

Gloucester: C-

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Another team who might be thankful for the break. The Cherry and Whites have had yet another tough season, and have won just three games all season-two of which came in their opening two games. George Skivington’s side have been far to open defensively this season. They currently have the second worst defence in the league and the second worse points difference too. Their Premiership Cup success last weekend could be the catalyst they need to restart their league campaign.

Newcastle Falcons: D

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This was always going to be a tough year for the Falcons. They came into the year with an inexperienced squad, and unfortunately for them they have struggled in all areas. They still find themselves without a win this season, have have just four points to show for their efforts. Things might be about to change thanks to the introduction of Steve Diamond, but it’ll be a tough ask for them to finish anywhere other than bottom.