The Greene King IPA Championship will kick-off its sixth season as the second tier of English professional rugby this weekend.
For the third time in four seasons London Scottish and Rotherham Titans meet on the opening weekend, Saturday September 6, 3pm kick-off.
Last October, two Tom Cruse tries and the accurate boot of Juan Pablo Socino helped Titans leave the Athletic Ground with the narrowest of victories.
That 24-23 win provided the perfect platform for the Titans to go on and enjoy their best season for 10 years and they secured another narrow win over London Scottish in February, 15-12 at a windswept Clifton Lane.
Rotherham made the play-offs at Scottish's expense and are currently on a three-game winning run over the Exiles.
We are offering fans the chance to book into hospitality for this huge clash for JUST £20, a saving of £10! Call the Commercial team on 020 3397 9551 to book your place.
Match tickets can be bought here and start at just £12 for members and £15 for non-members (Clan, standing tickets) with Under-16s again able to get into the ground for free this season (Clan, standing tickets).
On Friday Nottingham Rugby host Bedford Blues at Meadow Lane, KO 8pm.
The fixture marks the start of the 2014/15 Championship season with the 2012/13 semi-final opponents going head-to-head.
As history shows, Bedford went on to book their place in the final over the Green & Whites, eventually losing out on promotion to Newcastle Falcons. However, with an impressive pre-season win over Leicester Tigers, the home side will be confident of starting their season campaign on the front foot.
Elsewhere in Round 1, Sky Sports continue their ground breaking coverage of the competition which witnessed the first use of Ref Cam in professional rugby union, as well introducing half-time interviews, warm-up and changing room access into the second tier in 2011. Their coverage begins with a heavyweight showdown between Bristol Rugby and Worcester Warriors live from Ashton Gate Stadium on Sunday, KO 14:40.
Bristol, who moved into Ashton Gate, home of Bristol City FC, over the summer, will be looking for a fresh start after the disappointment of losing the 2013/14 Championship final to London Welsh in May.
With names including Dwayne Peel, Ryan Jones and former Warriors David Lemi and Chris Brooker, the West Country men certainly bring plenty of experience to the competition.
Their opposition, led by Dean Ryan, will be looking to repeat what London Welsh and Newcastle Falcons managed; an immediate return to the top tier. But having been in the Championship before, the Warriors know all too well of the challenges presented by the other 11 clubs.
“As you can see by the opening weekend, the Championship just gets more competitive year after year,” commented Geoff Irvine, Chairman of the Championship Clubs Committee.
“The battle for a top four place, as well as to avoid relegation, will undoubtedly be fierce this season with the margin between teams ever decreasing. With a Championship XV v Canada fixture included within the schedule, the next nine months promises to be fascinating.”
Elsewhere, Doncaster Knights mark their return to the professional game with a home fixture against Plymouth Albion and Moseley host Jersey from Billesley Common.
Cornish Pirates complete the weekend, hosting newly named Yorkshire Carnegie at The Mennaye.
All twelve captains were present at Greene King IPA's flagship brewery today, marking the second year of title sponsorship under the brewer.
Commenting on the beginning of the 2014/15 season Chris Houlton, managing director of Greene King Brewing and Brands, said: “Our focus for the next season is to work with the RFU on driving more awareness and footfall to the games over the next 12 months.
“While the players will be creating great moments on the pitch, we will be looking to match that excitement with competitions and beer festivals that both showcase new, innovative craft ales and our original, easy-drinking Greene King IPA.”
2014/15 Greene King IPA Championship Round 1 fixtures
Nottingham v Bedford Blues, Friday September 5, KO 20:00
Doncaster Knights v Plymouth Albion, Saturday September 6, 14:30
London Scottish v Rotherham Titans, Saturday September 6, KO 15:00 BUY TICKETS AND HOSPITALITY HERE.
Moseley v Jersey, Saturday September 6, KO 15:00
Bristol Rugby v Worcester Warriors, Sunday September 7, KO 14:40. Live on Sky Sports HD
Cornish Pirates v Yorkshire Carnegie, Sunday September 7, KO 15:00