It's a 2020 vision of the rugby year ahead. This is an advertsing feature.
2020 Rugby Preview and Predictions
Rugby union fans are set for an exciting time of things in 2020, with plenty to look forward to in both domestic and international competitions.
Saracens’ 35-point deduction has added an intriguing dimension to the Premiership season, setting up the possibility of one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all-time.
On the international front, England will be eager to put their World Cup disappointment behind them when they kick-off their Six Nations campaign in February.
Read on as we look at some of the main talking points for the next 12 months in the world of rugby union.
Saracens on a mission
The massive points deduction handed down to Saracens would probably have floored other clubs, but it appears to have galvanised the reigning Gallagher Premiership champions.
They have managed to claw back more than half of the deficit after just five matches, sparking a flurry of interest on the 888sport betting app in their odds to secure a top four finish.
Saracens appear to have sacrificed Champions Cup success in favour of retaining their Premiership status and it is a decision that could pay huge dividends in 2020.
If they can maintain their early season form throughout the campaign, Saracens should comfortably avoid relegation and climb up the table.
Finishing in the top four would undoubtedly be one of the greatest sporting comebacks in history, although sneaking into a Champions Cup qualification spot is the more likely outcome.
England aiming to bounce back
Having defeated New Zealand in the semi-finals, England were strongly fancied to go on and win the 2019 World Cup.
However, they were deservedly beaten by South Africa and must now quickly regroup with the Six Nations Championship looming large.
England have plenty of young talent in their squad, giving head coach Eddie Jones plenty to work on over the coming months.
With both Wales and Ireland set to visit Twickenham during the 2020 campaign, England’s fixtures are favourable and they are strongly fancied to complete the Grand Slam.
The long-term aim for this group of players will be the 2023 World Cup in France and winning the Six Nations would be a great way to start the next cycle.
Farrell faces testing times with Ireland
Ireland’s dismal World Cup campaign will undoubtedly have signalled the end for many of their more experienced players.
The tournament came a year too late for Ireland and new head coach Andy Farrell has a big rebuilding job on his hands.
The likes of Conor Murray, Rob Kearney, Cian Healy and others may not be around for the next World Cup, highlighting the size of the task faced by Farrell.
When you factor in that this is Farrell’s first stint as a head coach, there could be some tough times ahead for Irish rugby.
However, Ireland de have some promising talent coming through and if Farrell can get them to fulfil their potential the future could be bright.
Pivac with big shoes to fill in Wales
Warren Gatland has left Wales in a healthy state, with the squad featuring a nice blend of youth and experience.
His replacement as head coach, Wayne Pivac, did a superb job with Welsh club Scarlets and he will be eager to continue in the same vein at international level.
Pivac’s main issue will be imposing his own style on set-up that has been moulded around Gatland’s methodologies.
Away trips to Ireland and England in the Six Nations will be tough, although Wales should be capable of picking up a positive result in Dublin.
Gatland has provided Pivac with an excellent foundation to work from and it will be interesting to see how he fares in 2020.
Scotland set to struggle again
Scotland have been having a tough time of things over the past few years and it’s difficult to see that changing anytime soon.
Injuries hit them hard in last year’s Six Nations and that continued into a disappointing World Cup campaign in Japan.
The gap between Scotland and the rest of the big nations has been steadily growing and it is difficult to believe they will be able to halt their slide in 2020.
Head coach Gregor Townsend deserves credit for trying to play the game the right way, but Scotland simply don’t have the resources to compete on an equal footing.
Italy’s presence in the Six Nations will keep them off bottom of the standings, but that will be of little consolation to Scotland’s long-suffering fans.
This is an advertsing feature with 888 sport betting.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.