Aviva Premiership: Champions Leicester host Worcester on opening weekend
Last Updated: 04/07/13 1:53pm
Leicester Tigers: Celebrate their 2012-13 Aviva Premiership Final success
Leicester Tigers will begin the defence of their Aviva Premiership title at home to the Worcester Warriors on September 8.
Richard Cockerill's men claimed their historic tenth title in May with a 37-17 win over the Northampton Saints at Twickenham, and their second game of the season is a trip to old rivals Bath, who they will be playing for the 100th time.
But they will be without Cockerill for the opening nine matches of the season as he is suspended for verbally abusing match officials during their final success.
Newcastle Falcons, back in the Aviva Premiership after only one season, have the honour of kicking off the season on Friday September 6 when they take on Bath.
Opening weekend's fixtures
Friday 6 September
Newcastle v Bath
Saturday 7 September
London Irish v Saracens
Gloucester v Sale
Northampton v Exeter
London Wasps v Harlequins
Sunday 8 September
Leicester v Worcester
The now traditional London Double Header also takes place on the Saturday with London Irish taking on Saracens at Twickenham, followed soon after by Wasps against Harlequins.
To complete the opening weekend, last season's Aviva Premiership runners-up Northampton entertain Exeter Chiefs while Steve Diamond's Sale Sharks make the trip to Kingsholm to face Gloucester.
"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," said Phil Winstanley the Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby.
"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."
Over the rest of the domestic league season, there will be two further games played at Twickenham and one at Wembley Stadium.
Twickenham will host Harlequins' clash with Exeter on December 28 while Wasps take on Gloucester at the Home of Rugby on April 19, and Saracens will use Wembley for their home match against Harlequins on March 22 - two seasons ago, that fixture attracted a world record crowd of more than 83,000.