Aviva Premiership 2011 Countdown to Kick-Off: Watch the Premiership Live
Aviva Premiership 2011 Countdown to Kick-Off: Watch the Premiership Live REUTERS

Saturday marks the opening of the Aviva Premiership season that should be one of the most fiercely contested Premiership seasons in recent memory.

There is great excitement around the Premiership season especially given that the Rugby World Cup begins on 9 September, giving the younger, fresher faces the chance to shine for the first weeks of the season. It will be a challenging couple of weeks for the likes of Leicester and Saracens who combined have a total of 17 players competing at this year's World Cup. It will no doubt be an exciting start to the season and will challenge every Premiership team's squad size as well as the youth players in their ranks.

Saracens are most bookies favourites to retain their Premiership crown this season but Leicester will no doubt run them close. Many pundits are also keeping their eyes closely fixed to see how Northampton fares this season.

The side is based around core English talent and will be a match for the top sides in the division, especially given their youthful exuberance but run the danger of the World Cup spoiling their plans with six players away on duty. Northampton Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder will be looking to avoid the form that saw the side lose all six games during last season Six Nations Campaign.

Eyes will also be on Exeter Chiefs, as they attempt to upset the odds this season and remain in the Premiership. Exeter will keen to show early on this season that they are ready the big time after their promotion from Division 1 last season.

Many pundits player to watch is London Irish new boy Joe Ansbro. The signing will be seen as something of a real coup for the club with believing that Ansbro will be a key to their hopes for the season. The 25 year old is a pacey runner and has immense power and the partnership with Shontayne Hape will be key to a strong Irish season.

Saturday, 3 September 2011 Aviva Premiership Rugby Fixtures

London Irish v Harlequins, 14:00 ESPN and HD

Leicester v Exeter, 15:00

Worcester v Sale, 15:00

Saracens v Wasps, 16:30 - ESPN and HD

Newcastle v Bath, 18:30

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Northampton v Gloucester, 14:30 ESPN and HD

Tickets for the London Double Header will be available tomorrow from the Twickenham ticket office for those wanting to take advantage of the forecast good weather.