Bath are the latest to feel the pull of the vortex. Todd Blackadder’s side go into their game at a resurgent Worcester attempting to avoid what would be their worst sequence of losses in the Premiership for six years.
A fourth straight league defeat would send them into the month-long Premiership recess almost certainly in the bottom half of the table and with an uphill struggle to make the play-offs.
It is an oddity when Bath have made such a good start in Europe, but it is also the story of an unpredictable season in which only Exeter appear immune from a ride on the bucking bronco.
“It’s a strange one,” said Anthony Watson, one of three Lions in the Bath squad. “We were really happy after Toulon home and away – we probably played our best rugby of the year – but last week against Wasps our defence just wasn’t good enough. You can’t concede 31 points in the Premiership and expect to win.
“It’s probably individual lapses in concentration affecting the team as a whole. It’s something we have touched on and we think we have sussed now.
“It’s going to be important for us to make sure we can go away from home, keep our concentration for the whole 80 minutes and more importantly get a win.”
Losing streaks can be hard to snap. Wasps lost five in a row in all competitions during September and October. Saracens reached seven – their worst run for 14 years – in November and December. Northampton are currently on seven, one ahead of Leicester, whose drought is the Tigers’ longest since 1965.
The league-wide game of injury roulette has played its part in the struggles of all the big clubs with Bath as badly affected as anyone, but they have Jonathan Joseph fit tonight after the dead leg which forced him to miss England’s training camp in Brighton this week.
“We really need to show our resilience and get back on track. We desperately need a really good result, let alone a really good performance,” said Blackadder, the club’s director of rugby.
“If you let these ones slip, we know down the track with the Six Nations coming up we could possibly be without four or five players.
“We don’t want to be going into the business end of the season really under pressure, because if you go in there stressed you don’t really play your best rugby.”
Bottom-of-the-table London Irish have bolstered their resources for the relegation fight with the signings of two Springboks.
Back-row Arno Botha, who was due to sign for Ulster last summer only to fail a medical, and scrum-half Piet van Zyl arrived from the Blue Bulls yesterday.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to help the club move up the table,” said van Zyl, who will stand in for the injured Brendan McKibbin.
Wales prop Samson Lee returns after a three-month lay-off with an Achilles injury for the Scarlets against the Dragons in the Pro14 tonight.
Ex-England skills coach Rory Teague has taken charge at Top 14 club Bordeaux after the departure of Jacques Brunel to France. Teague, 32, who left Eddie Jones’s management team last May, was yesterday promoted from attack coach.