7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The opening televised fixture sees a live double-header featuring Worcester Warriors' Zurich Premiership debut against Newcastle Falcons, plus Sale Sharks vs. Leicester Tigers - a re-match of last season's Zurich Wildcard Final.
The initial fixtures give each of the twelve Zurich Premiership teams at least one live home match by Monday, 27th December. The live Zurich Premiership fixtures include:
Â· WORCESTER WARRIORS VS. NEWCASTLE FALCONS - Sunday, 5th September: Cecil Duckworth's newly-promoted Worcester face a tough Premiership debut against Rob Andrew's Newcastle Falcons. Fans will also hope to see World Cup star Jonny Wilkinson's return to competitive rugby.
Â· NORTHAMPTON SAINTS VS. GLOUCESTER - Saturday, 18th September: the two Premiership heavyweights qualified for the Heineken Cup by finishing third and fourth in the Zurich Premiership last season.
Â· LEICESTER TIGERS VS. BATH - Saturday, 9th October: with Bath's table-topping 2003/04 performance and Leicester's storming form towards the end of last season, this match could see the renewal of old rivalries.
Â· BATH VS. LONDON WASPS - Saturday, 16th October: a re-match of last season's Zurich Premiership Final with Bath entertaining the 2003/04 Champions at The Rec.
Announcing the fixtures, Martin Turner, Sky Sports Executive Producer for Rugby Union, said: "The new Zurich Premiership season on Sky Sports promises to be as exciting as ever. There have been some interesting signings over the summer including Matt Dawson moving to Wasps and Matt Burke and Colin Charvis joining Newcastle.
He continued: "Like everyone in Rugby, we also look forward to the return of Jonny Wilkinson, perhaps even on our opening day as Newcastle initiates Worcester into the Zurich Premiership. The re-emergence of Bath as a major force in the game and Leicester's storming end to the season suggests that this year's Zurich Premiership will be the toughest ever. All this and Jonny too...what a season we have in prospect!"
This year there is a non-stop season of live Rugby Union on Sky Sports, covering every month of the year:
Â· Zurich Premiership - up to 28 matches from the regular season, plus the Semi-Final and Final
Â· Zurich Wildcard - both Semi-Finals and the Final
Â· Heineken Cup - entire tournament live, including at least five matches from each round of the Pool stages
Â· British & Irish Lions, 2005 - all ten matches from the tour of New Zealand
Â· England's Autumn Internationals - against Canada, South Africa and Australia
Â· Tri Nations - every match live
Â· Southern hemisphere rugby - including Super 12, Currie Cup and NPC.
Dedicated support programming is provided by The Rugby Club - Sky's weekly magazine programme that keeps you up to date with Rugby Union from around the world - and European Rugby Special with a 3-hour review each Heineken Cup weekend.