Belfast Telegraph

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Saints await fixture announcement

Northampton will find out where they begin the defence of their Aviva Premiership crown on Friday with the eagerly awaited announcement of the new season's fixture list.

Saints beat bitter rivals Saracens 24-20 after extra-time in the play-off final in May to lift the Premiership trophy for the first time in the club's history.

Saracens had finished nine points clear at the top of the table at the end of the regular season but succumbed to Saints in the knock-outs for the second year running.

The Men in Black go into the new campaign without influential captain Steve Borthwick, who retired at the end of last season after 16 years in the game.

Ten-time champions Leicester will be looking to wrestle back the title they won in 2013.

The Tigers have been busy off the field this summer, bringing in eight new players to bolster the ranks including exciting young England fly-half Freddie Burns from Gloucester.

Gloucester have also been ringing the changes, with the club hoping to improve on last season's disappointing ninth-place finish under new director of rugby David Humphreys.

Former Ulster boss Humphreys replaced Nigel Davies last month and has since been joined at Kingsholm by Australian Laurie Fisher, who will take on the role of head coach.

Coming up from the Championship are London Welsh, who secured their top-flight status with a 48-28 aggregate victory over Bristol.

The Exiles, who finished runners-up in the Championship table, will be hoping for a better campaign than their last in the Premiership, which saw the team relegated with 23 points in 2013.


From Belfast Telegraph