Tough start for Van Graan as Premiership reveals 2022/2023 fixtures
NEWS: Premiership Rugby confirmed that Bristol Bears and Bath have been handed the honour of kicking off the new Premiership season on Friday, September 9.
When the two sides led the way for the league three years ago more than 26,000 fans packed into Ashton Gate to see the Bears win 43-16.
Director of Rugby, Pat Lam, said: “Kicking off the season against Bath is fantastic for both sets of supporters and we’re really excited for another big night at Ashton Gate. Our last two derbies on the opening night of the season have sold out, and we know our community will get behind us again on September 9.
“It’s a Friday night, live on BT Sport, and everyone at the club – staff, and players – are already relishing the occasion.”
Bath go into the new season under a new head of rugby with Johann van Graan having taken the reins following a move from Munster.
“The fixtures announcement always generates excitement amongst players, coaches, and supporters – I am sure everyone is looking forward to what lies ahead,” said Van Graan.
“We are relishing the opportunity to open the season with a local derby before back-to-back home matches at The Rec where I know we will be well-supported.
“Before then, there is a lot of hard work to be done by everyone at the club and we will continue to build towards that first round.”
Also on the opening day, it is fourth v sixth from last season as Sale Sharks welcome Northampton Saints to Salford.
WE’RE LIVE at the @BTGroup Tower for the 2022/23 Fixtures Launch 🚨
Which side do you want your team to face on opening weekend? https://t.co/4jgjxbHYxU
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) July 19, 2022
The champions, Leicester Tigers, have been handed a tough start to the 2022-23 campaign as they head to 2020 winners, Exeter Chiefs, on the opening weekend.
Last season the Tigers did the double over the Chiefs on their way to being crowned champions, but there were only five points between the teams when they met last March at Sandy Park.
Tigers Head Coach Steve Borthwick said: “We are very excited for the new Premiership Rugby season and the challenges that come with being a part of one of rugby’s most competitive leagues.
“Kicking off our campaign away from home against a quality outfit like Exeter Chiefs will be a great opportunity to test ourselves from the opening round against a side of their calibre, before being back at Mattioli Woods Welford Road with all of our supporters in the second round for an exciting clash with Newcastle Falcons.”
Another red-letter day in the Premiership calendar comes in Round Two when Saracens make the short trip to one of their fiercest rivals, Harlequins in a repeat of last season’s semifinal.
The London derby is bound to be a sell out at the Twickenham Stoop and Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson can’t wait to welcome Mark McCall’s side to west London.
“It’s great for our supporters to have such a huge clash against Saracens in our first home game of the season in week two,” Matson said.
“Those London derbies are always real humdingers and we can’t wait to run back out in front of another packed-out Stoop.”
Quins, the 2021 champions kick off the new season at Kingston Park and Matson added: “We have such an exciting season ahead of us. The league is as tight and competitive as ever and we’re looking forward to kicking off at Newcastle Falcons in Round One.”
Premiership Rugby Round One:
Friday, September 9:
Bristol Bears v Bath
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints
Saturday, September 10:
Exeter Chiefs v Leicester Tigers
London Irish v Worcester Warriors
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins
Sunday, September 11:
Gloucester v Wasps
Premiership Rugby Round Two:
Friday, September 16:
Northampton Saints v London Irish
Saturday, September 17:
Bath Rugby v Sale Sharks
Harlequins v Saracens
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons
Wasps v Bristol Bears
Sunday 18 September
Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs
To see all the Premiership Rugby fixtures click here.
Photo credit: @BathRugby