Aviva Premiership: Northampton Saints kick off the new season
Aviva Premiership: Reigning champions Northampton Saints kick off the new season against Gloucester
Aviva Premiership champions Northampton Saints will kick off the new season and the defence of their title at Franklin’s Gardens against Gloucester Rugby.
Saints, who defeated Saracens after extra-time in the Final last May, will have the honour of playing in the first match of the new Aviva Premiership season on 5 September.
I’m fully expecting the Aviva Premiership to be more competitive than ever this season
Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder said: “It will be exciting to start the 2014/15 season under the lights on a Friday night and at home at Franklin’s Gardens.
“The last time we played at home was the Aviva Premiership Rugby Semi-final, and if we can start next season in the same type of atmosphere as we finished 2013/14 then it will be tremendous. Gloucester have made a lot of changes behind the scenes this summer, and it will be an exciting test.”
“We know that as champions we are there to be aimed at and that every team we play will raise their game against us. The three away games at Wasps, Newcastle Falcons and London Irish will be difficult, while Sale and Bath will no doubt be looking to take a step up from last season’s improvements.
“I’m fully expecting the Aviva Premiership to be more competitive than ever this season. But as always we will be taking it one game at a time and looking to get a positive result every week.”
Northampton have also confirmed they will take Tom Wood and Co on the road, playing Saracens on 25 April.
The London Double Header is a fantastic way of starting the new season
On the opening weekend more than 65,000 fans will descend on Twickenham for the annual London Double Header.
The London Double Header kicks off at 2pm on 6 September when last season’s Aviva Premiership runners-up Saracens entertain Wasps, followed hot on their heels by London Irish hosting Harlequins.
Saracens will also make a return to Wembley on 28 March when another huge crowd will be expected to watch rugby at the home of English football. Saracens will compete against Harlequins at Wembley who will again host a Christmas match at Twickenham this time against Northampton Saints on 27 December.
Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “The London Double Header is a fantastic way of starting the new season. It’s a great occasion and a real showpiece event, one that everyone looks forward to. There are some great games in the opening rounds of what should be another exciting season of Aviva Premiership Rugby.”
London Welsh, who were promoted from the RFU Championship in May, are at the Kassam Stadium in their first weekend entertaining Exeter Chiefs on 7 September, before going on the road to Bath Rugby in round two.
London Welsh Head Coach Justin Burnell said: “We’re delighted to be at home for the club’s first game back in Aviva Premiership Rugby. Sunday 7 September at the Kassam Stadium will be a great opportunity to show the people of Oxford what the Premiership is all about and hopefully we can get a good crowd in and get the stadium bouncing.
“The reason why we were successful last season was down to our work ethic and our environment.
“We don’t claim to be world beaters but what we will produce is a tremendous attitude. If we get beaten on the day by a better team with better players then that’s life, but it certainly won’t be for a lack of trying.
“This week has been our first week back in training and I’ve already been very impressed with the attitude of the new players, and by how quickly they’ve settled in and adapted to the London Welsh ethos.
“With our drive and focus, hopefully we can go on to maintain our Aviva Premiership Rugby status.”
Check out the Aviva Premiership fixtures in full here