- Second tier season set to kick off with 1 Big Rugby Weekend
- Triple bill of double headers to start campaign
Photo: RFU Archive
After securing a title sponsor in Greene King IPA, the Championship is set to begin its most exciting season to date.
Continuing to lead the way in innovation – having introduced Ref Cam, half-time interviews and changing room access – the Championship and Sky Sports extend their partnership to include 18 games this season, two of which will be broadcast on the opening weekend at Exeter’s Sandy Park as part of the 1 Big Rugby Weekend.
The showpiece features a triple bill of double-header fixtures played at three neutral venues. At Allianz Park, the new home of Saracens, London Scottish will look to make it a hat-trick of opening-day wins since their promotion to the Championship in 2011 when they face newly-promoted Ealing Trailfinders.
The Exiles have kicked off the last two seasons with narrow victories over Rotherham Titans and will hope to add the league newcomers to that list on Saturday (kick-off 1.00pm).
At 3.30pm, London Welsh, the 2012 champions, face last year’s beaten finalists Bedford Blues. The sides played each other five times in the 2011/12 season, winning two games apiece in the league with Bedford taking the honours in a British and Irish Cup tie.
Photo: Getty Images
At the ground of former Championship club Doncaster Knights, Moseley do battle with Rotherham, while last year's losing semi-finalists Nottingham Rugby and Leeds Carnegie will go head-to-head at Castle Park.
Rotherham won last season’s home and away fixtures against Moseley by a margin of four points and are on a four-game winning streak against their Birmingham-based opponents.
Nottingham have come away from Castle Park with the points on each of their last two visits to Doncaster, and will be looking to replicate their opening day 34-29 win over Leeds last season.
In the final double header, the West Country clubs come out in force at Sandy Park – home of inaugural Championship winners Exeter Chiefs.
Under the reigns of new head coach James Shanahan, Plymouth Albion face Jersey in the first fixture of the day, before Andy Robinson's Bristol take on Cornish Pirates. Both fixtures are live on Sky Sports HD.
Each of the two matches between Jersey and Plymouth were tight affairs last term, with Jersey claiming home and away wins by two and four points respectively.
The home side has won the last nine matches played between former finalists Cornish Pirates and Bristol – a run stretching back to May 1, 2010 when Bristol thumped the Pirates 60-15 in their own backyard in the Championship promotion play-offs.
Greene King IPA Championship double-header fixtures:
Allianz Park, Saturday, September 14:
Ealing Trailfinders v London Scottish, kick-off 1.00pm
London Welsh v Bedford Blues, kick-off 3.15pm
Castle Park, Saturday, September 14:
Moseley v Rotherham Titans, kick-off 1.00pm
Nottingham Rugby v Leeds Carnegie, kick-off 3.15pm
Sandy Park, Sunday 15 September:
Plymouth Albion v Jersey RFC, kick-off 1.15pm
Cornish Pirates v Bristol Rugby, kick-off 3.30pm