Bristol face Bath in 2018-2019 Premiership season opener
Last Updated: 06/07/18 11:15am
Bristol will mark their return to English rugby union's top flight by launching the new 2018-2019 Gallagher Premiership season against west country rivals Bath on Friday, August 31.
Elsewhere that weekend, champions Saracens open against last season's play-off qualifiers Newcastle at Kingston Park, while new Northampton rugby director Chris Boyd's Premiership baptism will be a Kingsholm meeting with Gloucester.
Exeter, beaten in the Twickenham final by Saracens six weeks ago, start against Leicester at Sandy Park, with Harlequins hosting Sale Sharks and Worcester entertaining Wasps.
Other season highlights include a possible reunion with his former Wasps team-mates for new Gloucester signing Danny Cipriani on October 6, while the first Exeter versus Saracens rematch is the weekend before Christmas and Bath's return fixture against Bristol on April 6 will be their current annual game at Twickenham.
The Premiership final will takes place at Twickenham on Saturday, June 1.
Bristol head coach Pat Lam said. "To open the season against Bath and come up against (Bath rugby director) Todd Blackadder - a man I know and respect a huge amount - is really exciting and a major boost for our supporters, too."
"We have no doubt they will fill Ashton Gate and create an incredible atmosphere.
"It's great for us to be in Gallagher Premiership rugby, and everybody is relishing the opportunity to test themselves in a fantastic competition."
Saracens, who will be chasing a fourth title in five seasons, face an immediate test of those aspirations in the North East against a Newcastle side revitalised by rugby director Dean Richards.
Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said: "We are all excited about the upcoming season, and the fixtures coming out certainly adds to the anticipation.
"Everyone understands the amount of work which needs to be put in over the coming months to ensure we are ready for the challenge ahead."
OPENING PREMIERSHIP 2018/19 FIXTURES:
August 31 - Bristol v Bath
September 1 - Gloucester v Northampton, Harlequins v Sale Sharks, Worcester v Wasps, Exeter v Leicester
September 2 - Newcastle v Saracens