Saints to start their season with cup clash at Sale
Saints will start the new season and their defence of the Premiership Rugby Cup with a fixture at Sale Sharks on Saturday, September 21 (kick-off 3pm).
Chris Boyd's men, who go to Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership curtain-raiser on October 19, will play four successive cup matches before the league action begins.
The trip to Sale is followed a week later by a home game against Wasps, with another Franklin's Gardens date, against Saracens, coming on Sunday, October 6.
The Premiership Rugby Cup pool stages will conclude for Saints at local rivals Leicester Tigers on Saturday, October 12.
Saints have been placed alongside Saracens, Sale and Wasps in Pool 1 with the top team in each pool and the best runner-up across the pools qualifying for the semi-finals.
The final will be staged, once again, at the stadium of the highest-seeded side.
The inaugural running of the competition, which replaced the Anglo-Welsh Cup, saw Saints overcome Saracens 23-9 in the final at Franklin’s Gardens last season.
And Saints forwards coach Phil Dowson said: "We’ve already seen the benefit of getting young guys playing regularly in the Premiership Rugby Cup, so we’ll use it as that sort of opportunity again.
“We fundamentally want to win it and we’ll put pressure on those young guys to perform and make sure they put their hands up like the guys did last year to play Premiership Rugby.
“I was incredibly impressed with the way our guys came through and performed in the Cup last season, I thought it spoke volumes about the academy system we have at Saints.
“The strength of character of some of those young guys was impressive – every single one of them stepped up and played well and a lot of that led to them playing in the Premiership later that year.”
George Furbank was among the Saints players who impressed last season – and the 22-year-old full-back expects this year’s competition to be another eye-opening experience.
He said: “It was great to get a trophy under our belt with the Premiership Rugby Cup, so we know how to win a trophy and hopefully we can carry that on into this campaign and go all the way.
“The Cup is going to be important again. Obviously, it’s going to be different to last year but again it gives opportunities for young lads.
“It also gives a chance to new players coming in, and guys who played in it last year, to put their hand up early on in the season and showcase what we’ve been working on in pre-season.”
Saints’ Premiership Rugby Cup fixtures 2019/20
Saturday, September 21: Sale Sharks (AJ Bell Stadium, 3pm)
Saturday, September 28: Wasps (Franklin’s Gardens, 3pm)
Sunday, October 6: Saracens (Franklin’s Gardens, 3pm)
Saturday, October 12: Leicester Tigers (Welford Road, 3pm)
Premiership Rugby Cup Pools 2019/20