Harlequins have been handed the honour of kicking off this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup in front of the live BT Sport cameras as the Bristol Bears arrive at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday, September 20.
Four weeks before the start of Gallagher Premiership Rugby, the format of the competition sees England’s 12 top-flight clubs grouped into three pools of four, with the top team in each and the best runner-up across the pools qualifying for the semi-finals. The Final will be staged – once again – at the stadium of the highest-seeded side.
In an action-packed first round Gloucester Rugby and newly-promoted Gallagher Premiership Rugby outfit London Irish will go head-to-head at Kingsholm in the other Pool 2 game on the first weekend.
Elsewhere, Pool 3 will see Bath Rugby take on West Country rivals Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, with the game also live on BT Sport, while Worcester Warriors face Leicester Tigers at Sixways.
In a player welfare-driven initiative the structure of the Premiership Rugby Cup ensures that players will receive a winter break at the end of January and start of February, when the two semi-finals are staged on different weekends.
The teams in each group will play each other once over the first three weekends, before the compelling Derby Day weekend once again returns for the final round of action, starting on October 11.
On the Derby Day weekend, Gloucester will kick off the action on the Friday night against Bath at Kingsholm, while Exeter Chiefs face Bristol in the other West Country derby at Sandy Park on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers renew their Midlands rivalry with Saints at Welford Road, Saracens take on Harlequins, Wasps go up against Worcester and the Exiles face Sale.
Premiership Rugby Cup 2019/20
Pool 1 – Northampton Saints, Saracens, Sale Sharks, Wasps
Pool 2 – Bristol Bears, Gloucester Rugby, Harlequins, London Irish
Pool 3 – Bath Rugby, Exeter Chiefs, Leicester Tigers, Worcester Warriors