Aviva Premiership Rugby may be back later than usual but it promises to be bigger than ever before after coaches and players from all 12 clubs attended the official launch at the Twickenham Stoop to share their thoughts.
The Rugby World Cup is in full flow but October 16 – next Friday – is the date every Premiership Rugby club has been waiting for.
Saracens are the team to beat after toppling Bath Rugby 28-16 at Twickenham in May, while Worcester Warriors will be looking to make their mark on a more permanent basis after bouncing back up following relegation in 2014.
Indeed if you need a pick-me-up after England’s exit in the World Cup pool stages, Aviva Premiership Rugby is your one-stop shop – there was an average of five tries per game last season, more than any other professional league in the world.
And Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is in no doubt that retaining the title will be an uphill battle – but it’s one he says the club are ready for.
“The Premiership was really tough last year, we lost to some of the teams who ended up down towards the bottom of the league,” said McCall, whose side open up their campaign at home to Sale Sharks on October 17.
“I don’t think there are any upsets any more, and what we proved to ourselves last year is that we need to be resilient and bounce back from mental setbacks in the way we did.”
There’s a triple bill under the Friday night lights to open up the season, as Harlequins take on Wasps at the Stoop, new boys Worcester Warriors entertain 2013/14 champions Northampton Saints live on BT Sport and Newcastle Falcons host Gloucester Rugby.
And though Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan is not expecting his side to take the league by storm, he insists they’re much better placed to remain in Aviva Premiership Rugby than years gone by.
“Just as a club, we’re so excited,” said Ryan, who led his side to a nail-biting Championship play-off final victory over Bristol Rugby last season.
“What we did 12 or 18 months ago is really take the club in a different direction and try and get the core of the group motivated with the journey of a club rather than the journey of an individual.
“At the moment we’re starting to feel a little bit nervous but we’ve got to remind ourselves of our tough Championship schedule and how well we did to get here.
“We know there’s a huge gap, we’re not naive enough to think otherwise. But we feel like we are in a much stronger place to be more competitive.”
If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, next Saturday’s BT Sport live offering is the West Country derby between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at the Rec.
And on Sunday Leicester Tigers get their campaign underway by travelling to London Irish, now under the leadership of new head coach Tom Coventry.
The 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off on 16 October. To see all of the fixtures click here.