Saints’ fixtures for the Premiership Rugby 7s have been confirmed ahead of the season’s curtain-raising tournament at Franklin’s Gardens in September.
Two days of fierce competition are planned at Saints’ home ground, which plays host to the ‘Olympic-style’ version of the tournament for a third season running on Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14.
After Gallagher Premiership new boys London Irish open the competition against Gloucester Rugby at 5.30pm on the Friday, Saints get their campaign started against Bristol Bears (kick-off 6.38pm) before rounding off an explosive four-and-a-half hours of rugby against Harlequins (kick-off 21.38pm) in Friday’s finale.
All 12 Gallagher Premiership sides will face off over two days of competition in Northampton.
And Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson is already looking forward to seeing the talent on show.
“The club loves hosting the Premiership Rugby 7s,” Dowson said.
“It’s the third straight year we have hosted it and it’s a real good way to start the season as it gives young players a chance to shine.
“Rory Hutchinson played in it this time last year and it’s a cracking opportunity for those guys to get a first run out.
"Players new to the Academy can put the shirt on for the first time.
“They get a chance to tear around Franklin’s Gardens in front of a home crowd and it’s tremendously exciting for the club, so we’re all looking forward to that.
“The atmosphere at Franklin’s Gardens is always good for 7s and the club are doing work all the time to improve the experience for fans, so it will only continue to get better.”
The competition provides a chance for the next generation of stars to compete for the title, and Saints full-back George Furbank admits it provides a unique test for young players.
“It’s nice to have the Premiership Rugby 7s tournament back at Franklin’s Gardens again for the third year in a row – we won it at home a couple of years ago, which was awesome,” Furbank said.
“It’s nice for the young boys to be able to pull on the jersey pretty early on in the season. They’re the first ones who get to show Chris Boyd and the other coaches what they’re about.
“It is really exciting. No pre-season training is going to prepare you for the first five minutes of 7s! It’s an exciting opportunity and one the boys will relish when it comes around.”
After the pools are completed on Friday evening, Saturday’s matches will start at 2.30pm and see the top eight ranked teams contest the Cup quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, the remaining four sides will head into the Plate semi-finals as they bid to lift some early-season silverware before the tournament concludes at 6.45pm.
Rugby won’t be the only attraction over the weekend with the Gardens becoming a hub of activity, opening its gates from 4.30pm until 10pm on the Friday and 1pm until 8.45pm on the Saturday.
Tickets for the festival of rugby are available now. Early bird prices of £16/£6 (adult/junior) for two days and £10/£4 for one day are currently available from the Northampton Saints ticket office.
Premiership Rugby 7s: Friday evening fixtures
17:30 London Irish v Gloucester Rugby
17:53 Bath Rugby v Wasps
18:15 Worcester Warriors v Sale Sharks
18:38 Bristol Bears v Saints
19:00 Exeter Chiefs v London Irish
19:23 Wasps v Leicester Tigers
19:45 Saracens v Sale Sharks
20:08 Harlequins v Bristol Bears
20:30 Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester Rugby
20:53 Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers
21:15 Worcester Warriors v Saracens
21:38 Harlequins v Saints