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2017-18 Premiership fixtures released

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Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs will begin their title defence away at Gloucester when the 2017-18 campaign starts on Friday, 1 September.Newcastle host Worcester on the same night, while last season’s runners-up Wasps open against Sale on 2 September.European champions Saracens take on Northampton and promoted London Irish play Harlequins in the Twickenham double-header, also on 2 September.

Bath visit 10-time Premiership winners Leicester on Sunday, 3 September.Kick-off times for games in the opening 10 rounds of the season have been released, with timings for fixtures after 3 December yet to be confirmed.Dates and times of matches over the festive season, from 22 December until 7 January, will be confirmed in the first week of October.The 2018 Six Nations will start on 3 February, with four rounds of Premiership fixtures to be played before it finishes on 17 March. The regular season will finish on Saturday, 5 May, with the final scheduled for Twickenham on Saturday, 26 May.

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Dates for your diaryWasps will get their first chance of revenge for their final defeat by Exeter when the teams play at Sandy Park on 24 September, with Exeter going to the Ricoh Arena in mid-February, during the Six Nations.The first big derby of the season comes as early as the second weekend of the season as Leicester go to Northampton on 9 September, with the return fixture to be played in the middle of April.Gloucester face Worcester in an M5 derby on 22 September at Kingsholm, before they meet again in mid-February, while the Cherry and Whites come up against near-neighbours Bath for the first time on 29 October.Saracens, Premiership winners in 2014-15 and 2015-16, visit fellow London side Harlequins on 3 December, with the return fixture to be played at London Stadium towards the end of March.’It’s the most competitive league’Ugo Monye, former England and British & Irish Lions wingerIt is a tremendously exciting set of opening week fixtures on paper.Whatever any team did last season is not going to be good enough for this one. Every team is progressing.Every team is looking to get better, whether it is their training, analysis or the players. The Premiership does always get better.You look at some of the new players coming into the Premiership and it is just quality added on quality. I almost laughed when I heard Wasps had signed Marcus Watson, as out wide is not an area they struggle in too much.It is the most competitive league and for me, the best in the world. Last year, by the final round we still had nine teams with something still to play for and that is testament to how hard these guys work and how competitive it is.Opening fixturesFriday, 1 SeptemberGloucester v Exeter Chiefs (19:45 BST)Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors (19:45)Saturday, 2 SeptemberSaracens v Northampton Saints (14:00)Wasps v Sale Sharks (15:00)London Irish v Harlequins (16:30)Sunday, 3 SeptemberLeicester Tigers v Bath (15:00)
Source: Wiltshire BBC