Leicester Tigers will face new opposition in the opening game of the new season’s Premiership Shield with a trip to Gloucester United.
Gloucester have replaced Newcastle Falcons in the northern section of the second-team competition and host Tigers in the opening round in November.
The northern section also features home-and-away fixtures for the Tigers Development XV against Northampton Wanderers, Wasps, Sale Jets and Worcester Cavaliers during December, January, March and April before the league programme concludes with the return game against Gloucester in early May.
The top two from the north and south sections meet in the semi-finals, with the Premiership Shield Final scheduled for June 1.
Shield fixtures are played on Monday evenings. Dates and times will be confirmed via the Tigers club website and social media channels.
Entry to home games in the Premiership Shield is free to Tigers season ticket holders.
Corin Palmer, head of elite performance and player development at Premiership Rugby, says the competition fits perfectly into the player and coach pathway in England.
He said: “The Premiership Rugby Shield is a vital component of our season structure and competitive pathway that ensures academy players get the chance to play alongside senior professionals to prepare them for Gallagher Premiership Rugby.
“It’s not just for academy players though. With first-team matchday squads limited to 23 players, we need to ensure our senior players have the opportunity to play meaningful, competitive rugby as well. Last season the average age in the competition was 22, compared to 25 in Gallagher Premiership Rugby.
“It’s a case of keeping those players match-fit and ready when called upon, and to prepare some really good young players so they can step up to that level too.
“The Shield works hand-in-hand with the Premiership Rugby Cup as a pathway to Gallagher Premiership Rugby and it is a vital stepping stone in a player’s journey.”
Fixtures in the Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Rugby Cup have already been announced, with details of games in the European Challenge Cup to follow during August. Click here for the first-team fixture list.
Tigers fixtures in Premiership Shield Northern Pool
Monday November 25: Gloucester United (a)
Monday December 16: Sale Jets (a)
Monday December 23: Northampton Wanderers (h)
Monday December 30: Wasps (h)
Monday January 20: Worcester Cavaliers (a)
Monday March 23: Sale Jets (h)
Monday April 6: Northampton Wanderers (a)
Monday April 13: Worcester Cavaliers (h)
Monday April 20: Wasps (a)
Monday May 4: Gloucester United (h)
Monday, May 25: Semi-finals
Monday, June 1: Final