Saracens begin title defence against Wasps

Aviva Premiership champions Saracens will begin the defence of their title with a meeting against London rivals Wasps at Twickenham on Saturday, September 3.

Sarries secured their maiden league crown in May as they held off a late Leicester rally to secure a 22-18 success at the home of English rugby.

And today's release of the fixtures for the new campaign handed them a return to Twickenham on the first weekend in September as part of the traditional season-opening London double header, with London Irish and Harlequins getting the season started in their early 2pm kick-off at HQ.

Leicester's quest to regain their crown starts with a home clash against Exeter, with the West Country side seeking to build on an excellent first term in the top flight.

The Welford Road fixture will be no easy opener for Richard Cockerill's men, who were pushed all the way by the Chiefs in their two meetings last season.

Newly-promoted Worcester were handed a home fixture on their return to the Premiership, Richard Hill's side hosting Sale Sharks at Sixways following their Championship play-off success over Cornish Pirates.

Lions legend Sir Ian McGeechan will begin his tenure in sole charge of playing affairs at Bath, following the departure of Steve Meehan, with a trip to Kingston Park to face Newcastle Falcons, a side who came perilously close to relegation last season.

The opening weekend's only Sunday game is arguably the pick of the round, with beaten play-off semi-finalists Northampton and Gloucester clashing at Franklin's Gardens.

Northampton will be looking to move on from a disappointing end to the previous campaign, with a Premiership semi-final reverse to Leicester and a heartbreaking Heineken Cup final loss to Leinster ensuring they ended a season of much promise with no silverware.

Fixtures for the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership season:

London Irish v Harlequins

Leicester v Exeter

Newcastle v Bath

Northampton v Gloucester

Saracens v Wasps

Worcester v Sale