Premiership Rugby can today confirm that Exeter Braves will begin the defence of their Aviva A League title at home to Bath on Monday 12 September.
The Braves lifted the A League title for the first time last May beating Northampton Wanderers 55-25 in a pulsating Final at Sandy Park.
Kai Horstmann's try double capped a memorable 24 hours at Sandy Park as Exeter Braves emerged victorious. Two days before Exeter Chiefs had beaten Wasps to set up an Aviva Premiership Rugby Final against Saracens.
"The Aviva A League is a crucial part of the player development programme within the Premiership Rugby clubs, particularly for the young English players emerging from the Under-20s set-up," said Mike Hynard, Premiership Rugby’s Head of Academies and Development.
"The standard gets better every year and with England’s unprecedented success at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship we will see a number of those players combine some senior duty with a leading role in the Aviva A League.
"The competition is also crucial for coach development as we can see the Directors of Rugby of tomorrow get their chance to excel in the Aviva A League."
In a change to this year's format Wasps have moved into the Northern Conference with Gloucester Rugby taking their place in the Southern Conference.
London Irish will not be competing in this year's competition so it will be contested by 12 teams in the 2016-17 season.
The semi-finals will be played on 24 April with the Final a week later on 1 May.