Pre-season is over and the United Rugby Championship season is nearing ever closer.
The new-look tournament, now featuring four South African franchises, kicks off on September 24.
But who is likely to come out on top?
Unsurprisingly, it’s Leinster who are tipped to finish top of the pile – with the Irish province 4/7 to top the regular season league and 4/6 to win the grand final.
It’s seemingly set to be an Irish lockout at the top – with Munster and Ulster the next two teams in the running.
The Bulls, Scarlets and Edinburgh are next in line – with their odds on a league finish all the same.
What seemingly separates them with the bookmakers are their odds of winning the actual final. The Bulls are the best bet at 12/1 with the other two a little further back at 20/1.
Glasgow Warriors are tipped to finish middle of the pack, along with two of the new South African outfits, Sharks and Stormers.
Below them, all of the remaining Welsh sides are tipped for a bottom-half finish, with Cardiff, Ospreys and Dragons expected to occupy the 11th,12th and 13th positions.
That’s a tad surprising, not only given the relative improvements all three have made – but the fact that the Ospreys are seemingly the strongest Welsh side, especially given the Scarlets are something of an unknown quantity as Dwayne Peel takes charge.
Despite winning the Rainbow Cup last year, Benetton sit 14th while fellow Italian side Zebre prop up the table – with the remaining South African side, the Lions, breaking up the pair.
How the 2021/22 URC table is expected to finish
Here is how the final standings are expected to look, along with the bookmaker’s odds on the team winning the regular season.
1st. Leinster – 4/7
2nd. Munster – 7/2
3rd. Ulster – 13/2
4th. Bulls – 25/1
5th. Scarlets – 25/1
6th. Edinburgh – 25/1
7th. Glasgow Warriors – 33/1
8th. Sharks – 50/1
9th. Stormers – 80/1
10th. Connacht – 100/1
11th. Cardiff – 100/1
12th. Ospreys – 150/1
13th. Dragons – 200/1
14th. Benetton – 200/1
15th. Lions – 200/1
16th. Zebre – 500/1
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