Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says he and his team are relishing kicking off another Aviva Premiership season against Wasps.
Having faced the Midlanders four times last season – winning all three Premiership meetings and losing at the death in the European Champions Cup quarter-final – the Chiefs will kick-off their seventh year in the top fight with a trip to the Ricoh Arena on Sunday, September 4 (3pm).
A week later and the Devon club will have an equally stiff assignment on home soil, welcoming reigning Premiership and European champions Saracens to Sandy Park in another televised clash on Sunday, September 11 (3pm).
Round 3 sees the Chiefs at home again against Harlequins on Saturday, September 17 (3pm) after which they will make the short trek to newly-promoted Bristol on Friday, September 23 (7:45pm) in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Baxter’s side face a fourth TV outing a week later when they travel to Northampton Saints on Friday, September 30 (7:45pm), before returning to Sandy Park on Saturday, October 8 (3pm) for the visit of Gloucester.
European Champions Cup action, fixtures and dates of which are to be confirmed next month, will dominate the next two weeks, before the Chiefs return to Premiership action at home to Bath on Sunday, October 30 (3pm), another game to be screened live by BT Sport.
In the last of the confirmed fixtures so far in terms of TV picks, the Chiefs will head to Kingston Park on Friday, November 18 for their clash with Newcastle Falcons (7:45pm). This game, however, has not been selected to be shown live by BT Sport.
Exeter’s final home game of the scheduled top flight season takes place in Round 20 when Northampton Saints visit over the weekend of April 29/30, before they wrap up proceedings away to Gloucester on Saturday, May 6.
The Premiership semi-finals will take place over the weekend of May 19/20 with the Twickenham final following a week later on Saturday, May 27.
Reflecting on the new fixtures, Baxter said: "If you look at last season’s form, yes it’s a tough start for us, but at the same time we looked at the fixtures and said what other four games would we have picked to make it a different block of fixtures which wouldn’t have created a different set of challenges within the season?
"Here at Exeter we are pretty level headed about everything, we know all the teams in the Premiership are very good and we don’t take it for granted that we can beat any of them. What we will do is look to have a very good pre-season and build from there.
"Exeter against Wasps first up should be great because every game between us last season were incredible fixtures and if you are going to start the season with any fixture, why not let it be Wasps. We will want to prove a point, Wasps will want to prove a point, so we’ll take it from there."
With three of Exeter’s first eight games also taking place on Friday nights, Baxter is looking forward to the challenge that presents, including an away day at near rivals Bristol.
"For me personally, I’m quite looking forward to a couple of those Friday night games," added Baxter. "I think the atmosphere at Bristol will be fantastic and I’m really looking forward to that game. It’s great to have them back in the Premiership and to renew an old rivalry.
"They dominated things for a very long time, but we’ve been on top for a few years now, so I am sure they will be desperate to get back with us."
As well as waiting for dates and kick-off times for Europe, the Chiefs should find out in the not too distant future who they will be facing when the Anglo-Welsh Cup returns in November and the tail end of January.
Supporters are reminded that all fixtures are subject to change. Confirmed date and kick-off times are so far restricted to just the opening eight rounds of the new Aviva Premiership season
4 Wasps (A)
11 Saracens (H)
17 Harlequins (H)
23 Bristol (A)
30 Northampton Saints (A)
8 Gloucester (H)
30 Bath (H)
18 Newcastle Falcons (A)
26 Worcester Warriors (H)
2 Sale Sharks (A)
24 Leicester Tigers (H)
31 Bath (A)
7 Saracens (A)
11 Wasps (H)
18 Worcester Warriors (A)
25 Newcastle Falcons (H)
4 Leicester Tigers (A)
25 Sale Sharks (H)
8 Bristol (H)
15 Harlequins (A)
29 Northampton Saints (H)
6 Gloucester (A)
19/20 Aviva Premiership Semi-Finals
27 Aviva Premiership Final