TOP BAR - Fixtures

New Premiership Rugby season takes shape as fixtures announced

New Premiership Rugby season takes shape as fixtures announced

The 2017-18 Aviva Premiership Rugby season will kick off on Friday 1 September and it promises to be another enthralling campaign as the 12 teams plot their journey that they hope will end at Twickenham.

The first weekend of the season will see Aviva Premiership Rugby Champions Exeter Chiefs begin the defence of their title with a west country derby against Gloucester Rugby on Friday evening, live on BT Sport.

And three months after lifting the trophy on an unforgettable day in May, Exeter Director of Rugby Rob Baxter is looking forward to the new season and is excited by the first few matches on the schedule.

He said: “In a lot of ways, Gloucester is a really good starting fixture for us because the players will look at it and know it is a big challenge and we will know we have to start very well. Gloucester will be buoyed by some new signings and a new head coach so it is a very interesting start point for us.

“That first group of fixtures of going away at Gloucester, having London Irish come to us and they will have a point to prove, and then going away to Worcester where last season we had a really tough fixture and a hell of a lot of points were scored, and then having the regular enemy in Wasps back here in our fourth game. If you’re a supporter, it is an absolutely fantastic block of games in the space of a month.”

And Baxter knows the Chiefs will have to work hard if they are to be celebrating at Twickenham again come May.

“It doesn’t matter who won the Aviva Premiership last season, the league table right now says zero points and we have got to start collecting them again,” he added.

The opening weekend will also see the traditional London Double Header return to Twickenham, with newly-promoted London Irish facing Harlequins, while North London side Saracens take on Northampton Saints. Tickets for the London Double Header are now on sale, and will also be shown live on BT Sport.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby at double European Champions Saracens, said:

“September seems like a long way off as we sit here at the start of July but as we know the season comes around pretty quickly.

“It is exciting to see the Aviva Premiership Rugby fixture list come out because it sharpens the mind and makes it feel a little bit closer. So we are looking forward to having a good summer with the players and hopefully hit the ground running at the start of the season.”

Nick Kennedy, Director of Rugby for newly-promoted team London Irish, said:

“Fixture release day is always exciting. We’re delighted to be involved in the London Double Header first up, an event which gives us a great platform to kick-off the new season.

“London Irish and Harlequins have had some fantastic battles over the years, and we’re all looking forward to taking them on at the home of English rugby at Twickenham.

“The Aviva Premiership is going to be very competitive this season and we are relishing the challenge of going toe to toe with the other 11 Premiership clubs. To play in these huge games week in, week out is what we strived for throughout last season.

“The lads are working extremely hard ahead of what promises to be an exciting season against some of the best players in the world. We’ve added a series of new signings to the talent that we already have in place and they are settling in very well.”

The opening round of the new Aviva Premiership Rugby season also sees Newcastle Falcons host Worcester Warriors on 1 September, while last season’s runners-up Wasps take on Sale Sharks at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, and Leicester Tigers host Bath Rugby at Welford Road to round off the action on Sunday, live on BT Sport.

In addition, Premiership Rugby have decided to dedicate three weekends of the season to community partners. Round 7 will be devoted to Movember, Round 17 to Sport Relief and Round 20 to Restart Rugby, the official charity of the RPA.

Today’s fixtures announcement confirms for fans the first ten rounds of fixtures, up to 3 December, with TV selections also confirmed to make it easier for our clubs and supporters to plan ahead. The fixtures for Rounds 11-13, covering the Christmas period, will be confirmed in the first week of October.

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