- Greene King IPA Championship fixtures confirmed for 2017/18
- Things you might have missed from pre-season
The ninth season of the Greene King IPA Championship launched on Monday with all 12 club captains and coaches attending the season launch event at Twickenham Stadium.
The teams came together to preview the 2017/18 season, which kicks off on 2 September and sees Bristol Rugby return to the competition following relegation from Aviva Premiership Rugby and Hartpury RFC make their tier two debut.
Hosted by former Greene King IPA Championship player Tom May, the event saw John Barnes, Geoff Irvine, Pat Lam and Nigel Melville discuss the building excitement ahead of the new season.
And Hartpury coach Barnes said the side were relishing their first season in the Greene King IPA Championship.
“Last year was a fantastic year, we never thought we’d go the season unbeaten and win promotion but when we got to that promotion stage it was sheer elation," he said.
"To then finish the season unbeaten was a fantastic achievement and we look forward to the step up and the challenge that awaits us in the Greene King IPA Championship."
His side open their campaign against Bristol and Barnes said the squad were excited ahead of the clash in September.
"We’ve come in a little earlier than normal, we normally convene for pre-season in July but thought we’d come in a little earlier and it’s gone really well," he said. "We’re really looking forward to that first game against Bristol."
Bristol coach Lam said the club had a very clear vision for the coming months - with player development central to that.
“It’s great to be involved in the Greene King IPA Championship, I look at the teams we are going to be facing and the venues we are going to be playing at and it’s very exciting," sad Lam
“We have a clear vision at Bristol Rugby of where we want to go. We have three main objectives: we want to be a Champions Cup team, we want players playing for England and number three we want a lot of young Bristolians coming through and playing for Bristol.
"For that to happen it’s all about the quality of our rugby programme as well as coaching staff and if we get that right we’ll go a long way to achieving what we want to achieve."
The launch of the new season was also marked with the news that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has renewed its partnership with Greene King IPA for a further three seasons.
The extension will see Greene King IPA retain its title partnership of the Greene King IPA Championship, cementing its position as a key supporter of rugby at all levels of the game.
Round one of the 2017/18 Greene King IPA Championship will commence on Saturday 2 September 2017. For the full list of fixtures for next season, click