Baptism of fire for London Welsh
Baptism of fire for London WelshSHARE
Premiership newcomers London Welsh will face nine-time champions Leicester Tigers at home on the opening weekend of the new season.
The Championship winners follow up their clash with the Tigers by making the short trip to current Premiership champions, Harlequins, in Round Two which wraps up a demanding first fortnight in the top flight.
"We're delighted to draw Leicester and Harlequins, they were by far the best two teams in England last year, and they're arguably in the top half a dozen sides in Europe," said London Welsh head coach Lyn Jones.
"The challenge we face against Leicester and Harlequins is as big as London Welsh has ever faced. We're excited about the new challenge and we’re fully aware of how difficult it's going to be," said Jones.
Harlequins will start the defence of their title at Twickenham Stadium in the London Double Header, on Saturday, September 1, against London Wasps, the showpiece occasion being completed with Saracens against London Irish.
Wasps Director of rugby Dai Young welcomed the challenge, saying that his team was happy to start the season with such a stern test.
"The London Double Header is a great occasion. It was my first taste of the Premiership last season and it's one I am really looking forward to. But of course we know how tough the game is going to be. Harlequins were the best side in England last year and they were deserved champions, so it is big challenge for us, but it will give us a very good measure of where we are," he said.
Sale Sharks will travel to Exeter Chiefs in Round One, allowing the Sharks to showcase their new ground, the Salford City Stadium, with the arrival of 2011 Premiership Champions, Saracens a week later.
Chiefs coach Rob Baxter said that the Sharks will be a tough prospect considering the talent they have brought in during the off-season.
"There is no denying that Sale have had a little bit of a shake-up in the coaching department and brought in a couple of high-profile players in Danny Cipriani and Richie Grey, so it's going to be a tough first fixture for us," he said.
Completing the first round of Premiership fixtures Nigel Davies' first game in charge of Gloucester will be at home to Northampton Saints, while Bath Rugby's new Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, will make the short journey to Sixways to take on Worcester Warriors.
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks
Gloucester v Northampton Saints
Worcester Warriors v. Bath
September 1 – Twickenham
London Wasps v Harlequins
Saracens v London Irish
London Welsh v Leicester Tigers
Bath v London Wasps
Harlequins v London Welsh
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors
London Irish v Gloucester
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs
Sale Sharks v Saracens
Bath v Northampton Saints
London Welsh v Exeter Chiefs
Harlequins v Sale Sharks
London Wasps v London Irish
Saracens v Leicester Tigers
Worcester Warriors v Gloucester
For a full list of fixtures click here