Bristol v Saracens to open 2021/22 Premiership season
FIXTURES REVEALED: Bristol Bears have been handed the honour of kicking off the new Premiership season, hosting promoted Saracens.
The Bears, who last season suffered an agonising semifinal defeat to eventual champions, Harlequins will open the season on Friday, September 17.
Bristol Bears Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “It’s great that Bristol Bears will host the competition curtain-raiser and better still that we will have fans back at the stadium again. Having the opportunity to welcome Saracens back into the Gallagher Premiership will be a fantastic spectacle for our fans and BT Sport’s audience too.
“A capacity crowd at Ashton Gate, under the lights on a Friday night, always creates one of the best atmospheres in the country so we’re excited about getting underway.”
Saracens are returning to the Premiership after beating Ealing Trailfinders 117-15 in the RFU Championship promotion play-off.
Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “As a club, we are obviously looking forward to the new season and what lies ahead. Playing at Ashton Gate first up will be a great challenge but one our group will relish.”
Last season ended in breath-taking style as the average number of tries in matches moved above six for the first time in the competition’s history.
Champions Harlequins start the defence of their title on the road as they travel to Newcastle Falcons where former coach Dean Richards and former players Mike Brown and Nathan Earle are set to be waiting for them in the north-east.
Harlequins Director of Rugby Performance Billy Millard said: “It’s great to have sight of how our first season as defending Premiership Rugby champions will kick-off. Newcastle Falcons away is a tough match and we’re looking forward to testing ourselves early with a trip north.
“Our first game back at The Stoop will be something special. The majority of our fans weren’t able to celebrate our trophy win last season, and we’re excited to welcome many more of them on 25 September as we host Worcester Warriors.
“We have welcomed some new faces and a new senior coach during the off-season and we’ll be looking to hit the ground running with Tabai Matson joining us.
“These are exciting times to be part of the club. We feel we have a group that has so much more potential growth despite having already reached title status. I’m looking forward to kicking off the next part of our journey.”
The match at Kingston Park brings the first weekend to a close on Sunday, September 19 and follows four matches on Saturday at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, AJ Bell Stadium, Sixways Stadium and Franklin’s Gardens.
For the first time since the Premiership started in 1997, 13 teams will contest the League, which means each club with have two “bye weeks” in the season. Wasps have their initial bye week in Round One, hosting Bristol Bears in their first game of the season on September 25.
The 2021-22 season will comprise of 26 rounds plus semifinal and Final (on June 18) but is structured to support player welfare by maintaining the maximum game play limits and guaranteed rest periods.