Premiership Rugby have confirmed that Bristol’s first match back in the top flight of English club rugby will take place at Twickenham Stadium.
Andy Robinson’s side will take part in the annual London Double Header, on Saturday 3 September, facing the 2012 Premiership Rugby Champions, Harlequins.
“Seeing the fixtures really gets the juices flowing. We’re pleased to be involved in the London Double Header on our first game back in the top flight, it’s always a day that provides entertaining, competitive rugby,” said Robinson.
“The key for us this season is to enjoy our rugby and embrace the challenges that await us. We’re looking forward to playing at a fantastic stadium in front of our supporters, who we know will travel in great numbers to Twickenham.”
The London Double Header will be completed by the current champions, Saracens who kick off the defence of their Premiership Rugby title hosting Worcester Warriors.
“We’re very much looking forward to kicking off the 2016/17 campaign back at Twickenham Stadium against Worcester Warriors,” said Saracens Director of Rugby, Mark McCall.
“The London Double Header is always a great way to start the new season with four clubs battling it out in a showpiece occasion in front of a big crowd.
“Looking around Aviva Premiership Rugby all clubs have strengthened going into the new campaign with quality players joining from across the globe – again proving that this competition is one of the best in the world.”
Bristol may well be playing their first Premiership Rugby match at Twickenham Stadium but the league season will kick off the night before at Kingsholm.
Gloucester have been given the honour of opening the new season at home to Leicester Tigers.
“If there’s one thing that helps focus the mind for players and coaches during preseason training, it’s knowing who you’re going to be playing against to start the season,” said David Humphreys, the Director of Rugby at Gloucester.
“And it doesn’t get any better than opening up at home against Leicester Tigers. We had two incredibly hard-fought and close matches with them last season and we’re looking forward to locking horns with them again.
“A Friday night game under the lights at Kingsholm will be a magnificent spectacle to start the Aviva Premiership season, and I’ve no doubt that our fantastic supporters will turn out in force to roar us on.”
In what is expected to be the most competitive Premiership Rugby season on record the rest of the opening weekend presents fans with a series of mouth-watering fixtures.
On the first Saturday – alongside the London Double Header – Bath make the trip to the East Midlands to take on Northampton Saints. Sunday’s match sees last season’s Premiership Rugby runners-up Exeter Chiefs make the trip to the Ricoh Arena to play Wasps, and Newcastle Falcons host Sale Sharks on Friday.
The full line-up for the opening weekend:
Friday 2 September
Gloucester Rugby v Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks
Saturday 3 September
Harlequins v Bristol Rugby
Northampton Saints v Bath Rugby
Saracens v Worcester Warriors
Sunday 4 September
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs
Such is the anticipation for the opening week that four matches will be shown live on television. They start with Gloucester v Leicester Tigers, moving to the London Double Header and completing their live coverage at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.
Bristol’s first home match in Premiership Rugby will come on Sunday 11 September, when they host 2014 champions, Northampton Saints.
Bristol Director of Rugby Andy Robinson added: “Northampton Saints are the first visitors to the newly renovated Ashton Gate and it promises to be a good occasion.
“Our supporters and players will enjoy their new surroundings, the excellent playing surface and the passionate atmosphere that will be created. There’s lots of hard work to come during the pre-season campaign, but everybody is chomping at the bit to get started in Aviva Premiership Rugby.”
The second weekend of Aviva Premiership Rugby features live TV matches at Sixways, Welford Road and Sandy Park.
The full line-up is:
Friday 9 September
Sale Sharks v Harlequins
Worcester Warriors v Gloucester Rugby
Saturday 10 September
Bath Rugby v Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers v Wasps
Sunday 11 September
Bristol Rugby v Northampton Saints
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens
Premiership Rugby will also be staging a number of games away from traditional home venues throughout the season with both Harlequins and Bath staging matches at Twickenham Stadium and Saracens playing at Wembley.
Premiership Rugby are also delighted to confirm that the Anglo-Welsh Cup will return for the 2016/17 season, kicking off on the weekend of 4-6 November. The pools and fixtures for the new Anglo-Welsh Cup will be announced later in July.