Champs vs pretenders in season opener

The Premiership starts this weekend with the champions Sale Sharks taking on last season’s runners-up the Leicester Tigers on Sunday.

The Sharks won first ever Premiership title last season built on the back of solid forward play and an innovative and enterprising backline.

Philippe Saint-Andre’s team consigned the once dominant Tigers to their fifth season without silverware when they beat them in the final game of last season.

Leicestster, the 2002 Heineken Cup winners, will be looking to deal a measure of retribution at Welford road and kick off their campaign boosted by a victory over what will most likely be their strongest opposition for the title.

Premiership newcomers Harlequins, bolstered by a litany of summer signings, including a big money deal that secured the services of South African-born England international, Stuart Abbott, begin the season with a trip to a resurgent London Irish.

The Exiles defied their pre-season billing as Premiership whipping boys by playing some scintillating rugby which saw them finish a commendable third. They won 11 away games last season and if they can if they can replicate that form at home, they could be the celebrating at the end of the season.

Fixtures for the opening round of the season:

Saturday 2nd September

London Irish v Harlequins
Saracens v London Wasps
Gloucester v Bath
Worcester Warriors v Bristol

Sunday 3rd September

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks