Bristol host Leicester to kick off Premiership season while Saracens face Exeter

Saracens start the defence of their Gallagher Premiership title at Exeter (David Davies/PA)
Saracens start the defence of their Gallagher Premiership title at Exeter (David Davies/PA)

Bristol will host Leicester to kick off the new Gallagher Premiership season on Friday, October 13 before champions Saracens start the defence of their title with a trip to Exeter.

After Wasps, Worcester and London Irish all entered administration while Championship winners Jersey Reds did not meet the minimum standards criteria for promotion, the new top-flight campaign will feature just 10 teams.

The revamped schedule for the 2023-24 campaign gives all clubs one home fixture in the opening two weeks of the season.

Saracen’s Ivan van Zyl kicks clear during the Gallagher Premiership final
Sale came up short against Saracens in the 2023 Premiership final at Twickenham (Mike Egerton/PA)

After Saturday’s 1.30pm kick-off at Exeter’s Sandy Park, Bath host Newcastle at 3pm while Harlequins will travel to Gloucester.

To complete the opening weekend’s action, Sale – beaten by Saracens in the Premiership final at Twickenham – will welcome Northampton on October 15, which will also be broadcast live on TNT Sports.

The Premiership final is set to take place on June 8 at Twickenham.

There will be a ‘Derby Weekend’ in round six from November 17 to 19, which will see Sale play Newcastle and Bath host Bristol on the Friday night.

The action on the Saturday sees Northampton travel to Leicester with Saracens at London rivals Harlequins. Both matches will be shown live ahead of Exeter playing Gloucester on the Sunday afternoon.

Clubs will also have one home fixture over the Christmas period, which it is hoped will allow families to enjoy games together.

December 30 will see Harlequins’ ‘Big Game’ series back in the festive schedule when they take on Gloucester at Twickenham.

Following a break of league action during the Guinness Six Nations, Saracens play Harlequins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in March before Northampton face Quins back at Twickenham during round 16 in April.

As well as the live schedule on TNT Sports, which has been announced through until January 2024, there will be highlights of all 90 regular-season games on ITV along with seven full free-to-air fixtures and the Premiership final.

Premiership Rugby chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor said: “Today is always an exciting day in the sporting calendar and I know that our dedicated Gallagher Premiership Rugby fans, players and clubs are counting down until the big kick-off.

“It’s great to welcome our new-look broadcast partner TNT Sports in their debut season under their new brand and we look forward to delivering unmissable world-class sporting entertainment together.”

::Opening Premiership fixtures: October 13 – Bristol v Leicester (7.45pm, TNT Sports); October 14 – Exeter v Saracens (1.30pm, TNT Sports), Bath v Newcastle (3pm), Gloucester v Harlequins (3pm); October 15 – Sale v Northampton (1.30pm, TNT Sports)