Exeter Chiefs to face Gloucester in Aviva Premiership opener
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 07/07/17 12:27pm
Exeter will begin the defence of their Aviva Premiership title in a West Country derby against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Friday, September 1.
The fixture launches the 2017-18 season alongside Newcastle's home clash with Worcester, which is staged on the same evening.
Runners-up Wasps, who lost 23-20 to Exeter in the final two months ago, launch their quest for the crown against Sale at the Ricoh Arena on September 2.
The customary Twickenham double-header returns on the Saturday when European champions Saracens face Northampton before promoted London Irish tackle Harlequins.
Two old rivals complete the opening weekend's fixtures when Leicester and Bath meet at Welford Road.
"It doesn't matter who won the Premiership last season, the league table right now says zero points and we have got to start collecting them again," Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter said.
"In a lot of ways, Gloucester is a really good starting fixture for us because the players will look at it and know it's a big challenge and know we have to start very well.
"Gloucester will be buoyed by some new signings and a new head coach so it is a very interesting start point for us."
Among the fixtures confirmed for the first 10 weeks of the season is Newcastle's match against Saracens in Philadelphia on September 16.
Sarries will also face Harlequins at London's Olympic Stadium on March 24, having held the fixture - as well as some European matches - at Wembley Stadium.
Saracens CEO Heath Harvey said: "We have enjoyed a number of successful years with Wembley Stadium however despite continued attempts over the past year to build on the long-term relationship Wembley have not matched our ambition."
Aviva Premiership 2017-18 round one fixtures
Friday, September 1
Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs (7.45pm)
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors (7.45pm)
Saturday, September 2
Saracens v Northampton Saints (2pm, Twickenham)
Wasps v Sale Sharks (3pm)
London Irish v Harlequins (4.30pm, Twickenham)
Sunday, September 3
Leicester Tigers v Bath Rugby (3pm)