Leicester Tigers' first-ever Premiership double-header is imminent. Now just two days away, Sunday's double-header is very much years in the making for Leicester Tigers as a club. The first double-header at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, last year's clash which saw the men take on Italy A in an exhibition match while the women's team tackled Loughborough Town, was a roaring success with a record 3'500 fans staying to watch a derby victory for the side.
This year, things are turned up a notch as the men's side will battle Newcastle Falcons in the Gallagher Premiership while the women's team begin the first chapter of a new rivalry as they take on Loughborough Lightning for the first time, in round three of Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby.
It's a match between Premiership stalwarts and the new team on the block. But, beneath the surface, there are lots of similarities between the two.
The two Leicestershire rivals have plenty of players who have represented both clubs, with the likes of Leah Bartlett (Lightning #1, the first player on the teamsheet for the side's first-ever competitive game), captain Natasha Jones, prop Ofure Ugiagbe, flanker Becky Noon and fullback Amanda Swartz all starters and amongst a host of names who have featured in both Tigers green and African Violet.
The way the sides approach the game are also similar, in that both love fast ball in open play; ruck speed was the biggest talking point coming out of the first match and Lightning, true to their name, were second only to Tigers in average ruck speed after Round 1 of Allianz PWR.
In fact, the two teams are the only sides in the league to have over 68% of their rucks be completed between 0 - 3 seconds (Tigers 68.5%, Lightning 68%).
In terms of areas like gainline forward percentage (53.7% v 56.1%), kicks from hand (15.5 v 17) and line breaks per 80 minutes (6.0 v 6.0)the teams are virtually indentical and so both team's attacks are startlingly similar. As such, it may well be that the game is settled by a moment of magic, an unquantifiable outlier.
Both teams are bursting with talent who still establishing themselves at the top level and Sunday will be a brilliant contest between two exciting teams.
In terms of maverick talents who can decide games by themselves, two that stand out are Tigers' Meg Jones and Lightning's Chloe Rollie.
Jones has proven herself a true all-rounder in her short time at Tigers, the midfielder not only in scoring tries and taking kicks but also leading the league when it comes to statistics like defenders beaten (14, joint with Ellie Kildunne) and turnovers (4, joint with May Campbell and Beatrice Rigoni). A relentless threat in both attack and defence.
Rollie, meanwhile, helped Scotland to victory in WXV 2 competition over the Autumn and the full back has been at her dangerous best thus far; she's made the second most carries per 80 minutes (19) while making 161.7 metres over those carries. The flyer has also beaten 10 defenders in her single game played thus far, giving her comfortably the best defenders beaten per 80 minutes.
This Leicestershire Derby match is set to be a historic one, an exciting one and one that needs the full force of the Tigers Family behind it to make it as special as it deserves to be. We can't wait for Sunday.
Tickets are on sale now for our first-ever Premiership Double-Header at Mattioli Woods Welford Road (Sunday, December 3).
The men's team will take on Newcastle Falcons while the women's team take part in a brand-new derby, as they take on Loughborough Lightning.
To gain entry to the Leicester Tigers Women’s fixture you must purchase match tickets for the Double Header, which can be purchased via the link below.
PLEASE NOTE: Women's Team Season Ticket Holders must use the code, sent via email, to claim your free Tigers v Newcastle Falcons ticket and gain access to the Double Header.
Men’s team Season Ticket Holders can use their season ticket cards as normal to access the Newcastle Falcons fixture and stay to watch the Women’s fixture v Loughborough Lightning.