- New Premiership season fixtures announced
- All the hard work was for games like these – Rob Baxter
By Sky Sports
Photo: Getty Images
Guinness Premiership new-boys Exeter have been handed a mouth-watering start to their first-ever season in the top-flight.
The Chiefs, who beat Bristol over two legs in the Championship play-off final to clinch their place among English rugby's elite, open up their season with a home clash against south west rivals Gloucester on September 4.
Rob Baxter's men then to Welford Road in round two to tackle reigning Premiership champions Leicester.
Speaking to the Exeter Cheifs official website, Baxter said: "I think the start to the season is great for us. The whole reason for working as hard as we have as a club over such a long period was for us to have fixtures like this.
"It will certainly concentrate everyone's mind on the task ahead as we start pre season.
"The summer has been great for everyone involved with the club but now we have to get our feet back on the ground and get on with the hard work of being a Premiership rugby club.
"What could be better than a home local derby against Gloucester followed by a trip to the Premiership champions?"
Champions Leicester face tough Northampton clash
The Tigers themselves have been handed a tricky opening game, with Richard Cockerill and his side making the short trip to Franklin's Gardens to face Northampton.
There are even more derbies in round one of the new campaign courtesy of the annual London Double Header - with London Irish paired against beaten Premiership finalists Saracens, and Wasps taking on Harlequins.
New coaches Mike Brewer and Alan Tait will look to get their reins off to winning starts when Sale entertain Newcastle at Edgeley Park, while Leeds kick-off their second season back in the top-flight against Bath.
The Premiership is set for an unofficial second London Double Header on Boxing Day when Harlequins and Saracens entertain London Irish and London Wasps respectively.
And there is sure to be a bumber crowd at Sandy Park on New Year's Day when Leicester roll into town to face Exeter.