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Tigers begin title defence at home

Aviva Premiership champions Leicester will launch the defence of their crown at home to Dean Ryan's Worcester at Welford Road on Sunday, September 8.

Four matches on the opening weekend of action will be broadcast live on BT Sport, the Premiership's new television partner, starting with newly promoted Newcastle against Bath on Friday, September 6 at Kingston Park.

The traditional Twickenham double-header on the Saturday will pitch London Irish against Saracens and Wasps against Harlequins, before the cameras head to Welford Road for the Leicester-Worcester clash.

Elsewhere on the opening weekend, last season's runners-up Northampton will host Exeter and Gloucester take on Sale Sharks at Kingsholm, also on the Saturday.

Premiership Rugby confirmed there will be two further regular season fixtures at Twickenham - in addition to the double-header - with Harlequins facing Exeter on December 28 and Wasps tackling Gloucester on April 21.

Saracens' local derby against Harlequins will be staged at Wembley on March 22. The same fixture two seasons ago attracted a world-record crowd for a club rugby match of 83,761.

Leicester's second-round match against Bath at The Rec on September 14 will mark the 100th anniversary of the first fixture between the two famous clubs. That game was played on September 13, 1913.

Phil Winstanley, the rugby director at Premiership Rugby, said: "Every year the anticipation over the new fixtures grows and looking at the 2013-14 season it is clear we have huge matches every weekend.

"Matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby get more compelling and competitive every year and last season we once again had a smaller average winning margin - a slim 11 points - in our games than in any other league in the world. We've had three different Aviva Premiership champions in the last three years and last May we had a new club, Northampton Saints, in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final."

BT Sport will broadcast a total of 69 matches across the new season. The Friday night fixtures will be anchored live from the ground, while the weekend games will be hosted from its Olympic Park studios.


From Belfast Telegraph