Northampton Saints today announced a challenging pre-season programme ahead of the 2011/12 Aviva Premiership Rugby and Heineken Cup campaigns. During August the Saints will take on the reigning European champions, both Top 14 finalists and an international team in its final preparations for the Rugby World Cup.
The first action of the summer will be the return of the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series to Franklin’s Gardens on Friday, July 22nd, when a Saints Sevens team will take on Saracens, Gloucester and London Wasps.
The build-up to the 2011/12 season will start in earnest on Friday, August 12th, when the Saints take on Russia at Franklin’s Gardens. The Gardens has hosted touring teams from Russia in recent seasons; however this will be the first visit of the Russian national team to the venue as they continue their countdown to their Rugby World Cup debut.
The Saints then travel to France to take part in the annual Challenge Armand Vaquerin. The tournament is an established part of the build-up to the Top 14, and the Saints will take on both of this year’s finalists in the space of four days, playing Montpellier in Saint Affrique on Wednesday, August 17th and Toulouse on Saturday, August 20th.
The pre-season programme wraps up on Friday, August 26th with a re-match of the 2011 Heineken Cup final as the Saints travel to Dublin to play Leinster. Director of rugby Jim Mallinder said today that these tough matches will be important as the Saints squad integrates a number of new players and gets match hardened ahead of the Aviva Premiership Rugby opening weekend in September.
“With a number of experienced players expected to be away at the World Cup it is vital that the rest of the squad is fully prepared to start the Premiership season,” he said. “This is why we have put together a challenging pre-season playing programme, against the Top 14 finalists and European champions, as well as international opposition. We need to know that our players are ready for the week in, week out challenge provided by the Premiership, and we believe that playing the best in Europe will provide the environment we need to be competing at the top end of the league right from Round One.”
The game against Russia is included in the 2011/12 season ticket package. Supporters who ordered their season tickets on or before May 31st can also claim a massive 50% discount on their tickets for the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby Sevens Series.
For more information contact the Saints Ticket Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The full details of the pre-season matches are:
Fri, July 22nd JP Morgan Premiership Sevens Franklin’s Gardens
Fri, Aug 12th Russia Franklin’s Gardens
Weds, Aug 17th Montpellier Saint Affrique
Sat, Aug 20th Toulouse Camares
Fri, Aug 26th Leinster TBC