There are two Aviva Premiership matches today: Leeds against Saracens at Headingley and London Irish against Gloucester at the Madejski Stadium.
Gloucester, who have had an underwhelming start to the season, will be expecting a suitably sizeable contribution from the 6ft 8in Scotland lock Jim Hamilton, who will be in their starting team for the first time after a virus kept him out of the defeat at Exeter and victory at home to Leeds. The Scotland flanker Alasdair Strokosch will also start.
"Jim is another line-out option," said Gloucester's head coach, the former – yes – Scotland scrum-half Bryan Redpath. "He's obviously a big man, he has called line-outs for Scotland and Edinburgh and he takes a little bit of heat off Alex Brown. He's a big angry man. He's 130kg, which hopefully he is going to throw around. He's here to be physical."
London Irish have beaten Saracens at Twickenham and lost to Bath at the Rec. Their head coach, Toby Booth, said: "Belief is very high. We are in a strong position for our first match in front of our home fans."
At Headingley, Saracens will give a first start to the England wing David Strettle. They will also have the former England captain Steve Borthwick in the second row of a pack in which the only other man who isn't South African, the prop Carlos Nieto, is Argentinian-cum-Italian. Sarries' South African director of rugby, Brendan Venter, said: "We are expecting a fiercely competitive match. Our intensity and work rate will have to be at their best." Leeds will have the England hooker Steve Thompson on from the off for the first time.
Below the Premiership yesterday, notable results included Bristol's 13-13 draw in the Championship at Moseley after a run of three defeats, and a 25-14 win for Fylde at Morley in National Two North, without Jason Robinson. The England and Lions back, who played centre in Fylde's home win over Preston Grasshoppers last week, is not planning to play away games for his new club.
In the Magners League, Treviso beat a strong Leinster side 29-13 at home. That all their points were scored by foreigners – tries by Brendan Williams and Luke McLean, two conversions and three penalties by Tobias Botes and two drop-goals by Kristopher Burton – will not lessen Italian satisfaction too much. In the other early-evening match, the Cardiff Blues beat the Newport-Gwent Dragons 43-21, and in the late match in Limerick, Munster beat the Ospreys 22-10.Reuse content