Premiership Rugby has today announced that the Saints will open the 2015/16 campaign with a trip to Worcester, a match that has been selected by BT Sport to launch their coverage of the new season.
The game against the newly-promoted Warriors, who secured an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership with a dramatic late win over Bristol in the Championship final a few weeks ago, will be an immediate opportunity to come up against some familiar faces who now ply their trade at Sixways.
Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks and Saracens make up the remaining opponents in the opening month of the Aviva Premiership campaign before the European Rugby Champions Cup takes over in mid-November.
The Saints’ opening six fixtures are as follows:
Worcester v Saints – Fri, Oct 16th; KO 7:45pm (BT Sport)
Subject to TV confirmation
Saints v Newcastle – Oct 23/24/25
Sale v Saints – Oct 30/31/Nov 1
Saints v Saracens – Nov 6/7/8
Saints v Gloucester – Nov 27/28/29
Bath v Saints – Dec 4/5/6
All fixtures from Round 2 onwards are subject to possible change for TV broadcast, with confirmation of Rounds 2 to 6 to follow next week and further announcements to be made at regular intervals during the season.
One of the first dates that supporters look for are the always-anticipated East Midlands derbies. The Saints will travel to Welford Road on the second weekend of 2016, with the return match at Franklin's Gardens during Round 20 in mid-April.
There will be a trip to the Madejski Stadium to play London Irish on Boxing Day, with Exeter Chiefs visiting Franklin's Gardens to see in the New Year.
With the European pools drawn, the Aviva Premiership fixtures announced and following discussions with the contractors building the new Barwell Stand, the club's management has also confirmed that Franklin’s Gardens will be unable to stage any pre-season matches this summer. This is due to the lack of a control room that the stadium must have in order to accommodate spectators under the terms of its safety certificate, as well as the need for safe access and egress for supporters and the general public coming to and from the stadium for matches. This is not unprecedented, with similar arrangements made during the extension of the Burrda Sport Stand in the summer of 2005.
Furthermore, the tight building schedule means that the contractors cannot guarantee that the stadium would be fully ready and tested in time for the opening home match of the season. Therefore, following the successful ‘Best of English’ occasion in Milton Keynes in March, the management of stadiummk has made the Rugby World Cup venue available to help the Saints, subject to further discussions. Relevant announcements will be made in due course.
It has also been confirmed that, due to the late start in the English top flight season brought by Rugby World Cup 2015, there will be no LV= Cup competition in the coming year. The Aviva Premiership is starting on the weekend of October 16 to 18, and no elite club rugby can take place before that date.
Saints chief executive Allan Robson says he is pleased that firm arrangements can now be put in hand for the new season.
"We've been dealing with a lot of uncertainties, both in terms of fixture announcements and in the development of the Barwell Stand," he said. "Fixtures are always at the behest of our governing bodies, and while we put plenty of plans in place for the development you can only start to anticipate a finishing date with confidence once the contractors' work is underway.
"Now that we are several weeks into the development, there is more certainty around the completion date and we can turn our attention towards ensuring our Season Ticket Holders receive good value for money in terms of a suitable alternative to the two LV= Cup matches that would normally be a part of our season – even though these traditionally are two of the least popular matches of the campaign, where we see plenty of Season Ticket Holders choose not to take up their place, and where more tickets are made available on StubHub.
"While the building work is progressing well we are still working to a very tight schedule and there would be nothing worse than for us to plan to hold a game at Franklin’s Gardens only to have to make new arrangements close to the time because of unforeseen delays. We are therefore grateful that the stadiummk management have offered to let us stage our opening game there, details of which we are now discussing with them.
"As always, we will only make announcements when we are able to confirm relevant details, and in the meantime thank Season Ticket Holders for their patience and understanding."
The only way to guarantee your place at all the big games in 2015/16, including the massive Aviva Premiership clashes against the likes of Leicester, Saracens and Bath, and the crucial European Rugby Champions Cup matches against the Pro 12 champions Glasgow, French giants Racing 92 and the Scarlets, is with a Season Ticket.
Over 10,000 Season Tickets have been booked already, so to join this cast of thousands head to www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/seasontickets for all the pricing and booking information.