Reigning Champions Saracens will kick off their Premiership Rugby 7s title defence against Sale Sharks on a blockbuster first day of action following today’s fixture announcement.
The Men in Black claimed the season-opening trophy for the second time last year as they defeated holders Wasps 33-12 in the Final at Franklin’s Gardens.
Northampton Saints’ home ground will play host to the ‘Olympic-style’ version of the tournament for a third season in a row, with the action taking place on Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14.
Saracens – who went on to claim the Gallagher Premiership Rugby title following their 7s success – play Sale Sharks in the seventh game of Friday’s pool stages before taking on fellow Pool A opponents Worcester Warriors in the penultimate game of the night.
Gallagher Premiership Rugby new boys London Irish – winners of the Premiership Rugby 7s in 2012 – open up this year’s festivities at 5.30pm on Friday 13, leading off an explosive four-and-a-half hours of rugby.
Leicester Tigers are drawn against Wasps and Bath Rugby in Pool B of the competition. Find out more about the full schedule of games here.
The hosts will then bring the curtain down on the first day of action when they take on Harlequins and Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson is already looking forward to seeing the talent on show.
“The club love hosting the Premiership Rugby 7s,” he said. “It’s the third year we have hosted it and it’s a real good way to start the season as it gives young players a chance to shine.
“Rory Hutchinson played in it this time last year and it’s a cracking opportunity for those guys to get a first run out. Players new to the academy can put the shirt on for the first time.
“They get a chance to tear around Franklin’s Gardens in front of a home crowd and it’s tremendously exciting for the club, so we’re all looking forward to that.
“The atmosphere at Franklin’s Gardens is always good for 7s and they are doing work all the time to improve the experience for fans, so it will only continue to get better.”
All 12 Gallagher Premiership Rugby sides will face off over two days of competition in Northampton – with big hits, slick offloads and lightning-fast pace all guaranteed.
The Premiership Rugby 7s offers the chance to see the next generation of rugby stars go toe-to-toe, with talented youngsters from all 12 clubs mixing it with seasoned campaigners ahead of the new season in a fiesta of free-flowing rugby.
The competition provides a chance for the next generation of stars to compete for the title and Saints full-back George Furbank admits it provides a unique test for young players.
“It’s nice to have the Premiership Rugby 7s tournament back at Franklin’s Gardens again for the third year in a row – we won it at home a couple of years ago, which was awesome,” Furbank said.
“It’s nice for the young boys to be able to pull on the jersey pretty early on in the season. They’re the first ones who get to show Chris Boyd and the other coaches what they’re about.
“It is really exciting. No pre-season is going to prepare you for the first five minutes of 7s! It’s an exciting opportunity and one the boys will relish when it comes around.”
After the pools are completed on Friday evening, Saturday’s matches will start at 2.30pm and see the top eight ranked teams contest the Cup quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, the remaining four sides will head into the Plate semi-finals as they bid to lift some early-season silverware before the tournament concludes at 6.45pm.
Rugby won’t be the only attraction over the weekend with the Gardens becoming a hub of activity, opening its gates from 4.30pm until 10pm on the Friday and 1pm until 8.45pm on the Saturday.
Tickets for this festival of rugby are available now! Early bird prices of £16/£6 (adult/junior) for two days and £10/£4 for one day are currently available from the Northampton Saints ticket office – visit www.northamptonsaints.co.uk/buytickets to book.