England international Billy Vunipola has confirmed he has been fined after an incident which saw him arrested in Mallorca on Sunday, with his club Saracens set to launch an internal investigation. 

On Monday, widespread reports claimed Vunipola had been tasered by Spanish police in the early hours of Sunday morning, with an altercation taking place after he left a club in Palma.

Saracens later confirmed they were aware of an incident and said they would deal with it internally.

The number eight, who was born in Australia but has represented England 75 times, later released a statement of his own via his club, denying that any violence took place and confirming the police investigation was now closed.

"I can confirm I was involved in an unfortunate misunderstanding when I was leaving a club in Mallorca on Sunday, which got out of hand," that statement read. 

"Contrary to media reports, there was no violence, no fight and I did not threaten anybody at any stage, with bottles or chairs or anything else.

"I was charged with resisting the law and, following an 'express trial', I have paid a fine of €240. The Spanish police investigation is now closed, and I am flying back to the UK today.

"I will obviously cooperate with the Saracens internal process and unreservedly apologise for any inconvenience to all involved."

Refereeing chiefs have apologised for an “unfortunate occurrence” where the television match official dismissed an incident of foul play during Saracens’ victory over Harlequins.

Former England international Austin Healey, who was working as part of TNT Sports’ team at the match, spotted a clear-out by Harlequins captain Stephan Lewies, when he appeared to slide on his knees into Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell.

TMO Stuart Terheege was overheard telling referee Christophe Ridley on a microphone during the live broadcast: “The problem I have got now is that it looks like Austin has instigated it, because we’re late, so I don’t want to talk about it, OK?”

Lewies had received a yellow card during the first half of a game that Saracens won 52-7 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Professional Game Match Officials Team said in a statement: “The Professional Game Match Officials Team regret that questions have been raised about player safety and decision-making. Match officials take player welfare incredibly seriously and it is their overriding priority.

“At the time of the Farrell try, the Television Match Official (TMO), Stuart Terheege asked the TNT Sports Director for clips around the incident to review in the background before deciding whether to call an official review into the foul play incident, or not.

“This is a common request from TMO to Director, that occurs in rugby broadcasting to enable the TMO to decide whether an official review is required. Simultaneously, the TMO also checked the grounding on the Saracens try.

“In relation to the act of foul play committed by Stephen (sic) Lewies against Owen Farrell, the TMO saw the initial contact off the ball. He decided on the evidence that it was no more than a penalty advantage. As Saracens went onto score, that advantage was deemed to have been taken, so no further action was required.

“In response to Stuart’s initial request for images the Director asked the TMO if he wanted to look again at the incident. The TMO declined, as he was confident in his original decision. At the same time, the TNT Sports commentary team also saw the replays and posed the question whether Lewies’ actions warranted a review.

“TNT Sports’ audio directors can cut to the TMO if there is a moment when viewers would benefit from their insight in their decision-making. At this juncture, some of the conversation between the TMO and Match Director with regards to the replays requested and whether an official review was needed were broadcast ‘live’.

“The conversation between TMO and Director that was broadcast ‘live’ was regrettable, they were not intended to be heard outside of the broadcast truck nor were they the reason for the foul play incident not being formally reviewed.

“Terheege is disappointed that he allowed himself to be distracted with interactions with the broadcast team and did not communicate his decision to the on-field match officials.

“TMOs do not actively listen or react to the broadcast commentary team. TMOs make their decisions independently, based on their own judgement, experience, and in line with agreed World Rugby protocols. However, due to their location at the matches, they sometimes overhear commentary. The nature of the audio configuration in some broadcast trucks and in some stadiums means the working environment varies from match to match.

“The incident was an unusual and unfortunate occurrence. The PGMOT, Premiership Rugby and TNT Sports are working closely together to make sure this does not happen again. The three organisations enjoy a close and positive working relationship based on a mutually beneficial system that has worked for many years.

“All parties will continue to work hard to further refine and perfect systems to ensure player safety and high-quality rugby.”

Owen Farrell’s perfect balance of keeping a cool head alongside an intense physical performance can help drive Saracens on through the business end of the season, according to director of rugby Mark McCall.

Farrell – who sat out the Guinness Six Nations to prioritise his mental health – made an impressive return to competitive action in the crushing 52-7 Gallagher Premiership win over Harlequins on Saturday.

The 32-year-old fly-half is set to joins French club Racing 92 in the summer, a move which will make the long-serving England captain ineligible for international selection.

Despite the additional scrutiny, Farrell produced an impressive all-round individual display as Quins were swept aside at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in what was his 250th club appearance.

Saracens sit third in the table and now just three points behind leaders Northampton ahead of their meeting at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.

With a Champions Cup last-16 fixture away at Bordeaux also on the horizon, McCall knows he will need Farrell and all of his key men fully focused to tackle the challenges ahead.

“His performance on Saturday was high level,” McCall said.

“He passed the ball beautifully during the game and managed the game well, but just looked in control of everything.

“He looked like he had time in everything that was doing, so he had that lovely mix, which is the sweet spot for a player where you can be calm and cool, but very physical when you need to be and very intense when you need to be.

“He was able to be intense, to be physical and then come out of that and see when he needed to see and that’s always a sign of a very good player.”

McCall knows Saracens will need a high collective effort when they face Saints and is not reading too much into last week’s 52-21 at Bristol.

“I don’t think anyone should be fooled by what happened on Friday night,” McCall said. “Those kind of things can happen – it has happened to us a couple of times this year.

“They are good all-round and have taken their defence to a whole new level this year.

“They have been building for a long time and have a pile of cohesion in their team and we all know they are one of the best attacking teams in the country.”

Saracens looks set to again be without winger Rotimi Segun, who was a late withdrawal from the side to face Quins because of an Achilles problem.

Maro Itoje continues to be assessed on a knee issue sustained while on England duty, so may be rested.

McCall, meanwhile, confirmed the club had reviewed an incident during the Quins game when the television match official appeared to ignore possible foul play because it was highlighted by a pundit.

Former England international Austin Healey – who was working as part of TNT Sports’ team at the match – spotted a clear-out by Harlequins captain Stephan Lewies, when he appeared to slide on his knees into Farrell.

Player welfare group Progressive Rugby described the decision to ignore possible foul play by TMO Stuart Terheege in his discussions with referee Christophe Ridley as “hugely concerning”.

McCall, though, looked to draw a line under the matter, saying: “We did obviously (review the incident).

“But I haven’t got too much to say about it – other than in an ideal world, I suppose, if there is something that needs to be looked at by the officials, it gets looked at.”

Great Britain rugby league captain Andy Farrell switched codes to union and signed for Saracens on this day 19 years ago.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed Farrell’s three-year contract with Sarries on March 23, 2005.

Current Ireland head coach Farrell had enjoyed 13 heavily-decorated years at Wigan, winning 34 caps for Great Britain and 11 for England.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron said: “Andrew is an outstanding player who has been a superb ambassador for rugby league on and off the field and we believe that he will do the same in rugby union.

“Wigan and Saracens have been very co-operative and I’d like to thank them for all their help over the last few weeks.”

A string of injuries delayed Farrell’s Saracens debut until 2006 but he went on to make his England bow in the Six Nations the following year.

Injuries continued to hamper Farrell at every turn and he only managed eight caps, although he did go to the 2007 World Cup where defending champions England were beaten finalists.

A successful coaching career followed, with Farrell impressing with Saracens before joining England’s backroom staff in 2012.

Farrell helped the British and Irish Lions to a series win in Australia in 2013 but lost his England job after the 2015 World Cup, where head coach Stuart Lancaster’s side became the worst-performing hosts in tournament history.

The 48-year-old became Ireland defence coach in 2016.

He succeeded Joe Schmidt as head coach following the 2019 World Cup and has led Ireland to back-to-back Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2023.

England captain Jamie George has been hailed as “incredible” ahead of his return to club rugby after resolutely leading his country through a Guinness Six Nations campaign during which his mother died.

Saracens hooker George discovered his mum Jane had been diagnosed with cancer on the same day he was appointed national team skipper in place of club-mate Owen Farrell.

She died from the illness on February 14, four days after England’s 16-14 round-two win over Wales at Twickenham.

 Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall saluted George’s strength of character as he contemplates including him in his squad for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership clash with rivals Harlequins.

“Just talking to our England players who were there, I think it was quite remarkable how he was able to go and captain the side,” said McCall.

“The first time being a captain of that side and to have suffered what he suffered with his mum dying as suddenly as she did.

“And they said he was incredible. He’s highly popular amongst all the playing group from all the clubs, so he did an incredible job.”

George started each of his country’s five matches during the championship amid a difficult time in his personal life.

The 33-year-old has been given time off since the tournament but could still feature in this weekend’s derby with Quins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as fly-half Farrell prepares for a milestone appearance for Saracens.

“We haven’t seen him this week,” said McCall. “We’ve given some some time away.

“He might (be involved), you never know. It’s Owen’s 250th game and he’s one of Owen’s best friends.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jamie George (@jamiegeorge2)


“What he didn’t need was a couple of training days, to be honest.

“He’s got a new baby. He needed to be at home with his family and he’s the sort of person that we would trust with one practice to come and be part of the 23 if he really wants to be part of Owen’s big day.”

Saracens captain Farrell, who sat out the Six Nations to prioritise his mental health, echoed McCall’s comments

“Jamie’s obviously had a lot going on recently,” he said.

“I thought the way he’s held himself over that period and led the team was outstanding and you can see by the way the boys ended up playing it really built up well through that time. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Reigning champions Saracens begin the Premiership run-in sitting fourth in the table as an era draws to a close.

Captain Farrell will join French side Racing 92 in the summer, while Mako Vunipola, who is available following a ban, and brother Billy are also set to depart.

“I don’t want to talk without them having completely finalised their plans,” McCall said of the Vunipolas. “But they are coming towards the end of their time with us.”

Owen Farrell admits he was “nervous” over conversations about his wish to leave Saracens as the Gallagher Premiership club confirmed his departure.

French club Racing 92 announced last month Farrell will link up with them from July 1 on a two-year deal, making him ineligible for England selection as Rugby Football Union rules do not permit players who ply their trade abroad to be chosen for the national team.

Farrell, 32, had already announced that he would miss this season’s Guinness Six Nations in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being.

Saracens said in a statement on Wednesday the “most important thing” is for Farrell to put himself and his family’s well-being first and that they would be announcing several ways to honour the player before his departure.

“It’s tough leaving a place that has been my home since I was 14,” Farrell said in an interview published on the Saracens X account, formerly Twitter.

“It has been a difficult decision but it is an exciting one for our family. It has never been something we have thought about before, doing anything different.

“But for the first time ever we thought it would be good to go and experience something different and the time feels right.

“I was nervous about having some conversations, even bringing it up, because it’s never been thought about, let alone discussed before.

“But once we got into the conversations they were easy to have because of the calibre of the people here.

“The club have been fantastic with us throughout this year and it really counts for something when they care about nothing but the person.”

Farrell has won six Premiership titles and three European Champions Cups at Saracens and is in line to make his 250th appearance for the club next month.

He has won 112 Test caps, led his country in the last two World Cup campaigns and is England’s record international points-scorer.

Farrell said: “I want to enjoy the rest of this year. We talked about it at the end of last year but we want to do as well as we possibly can.

“It has never been taken for granted playing for this club. People stay here for a long time, as a lot of us have.

“Going in to the back end of the year we are looking to make it the best we can. I can’t wait to enjoy that over the coming months.”

Maro Itoje has committed his future to Saracens by signing a new long-term deal with the club.

The 29-year-old England lock has made 175 appearances to date for Sarries, having made his debut for them in 2013.

He has enjoyed great success, winning five Premiership titles and three European crowns and has played 76 times for his country.

In addition to his new Saracens contract, Itoje has been offered an enhanced Elite Playing Squad (EPS) contract by the Rugby Football Union.

The news is a boost to the domestic game and to England following his team-mate Owen Farrell’s departure to French club Racing 92.

Itoje had himself been linked last year with a move to France but says he “couldn’t be happier” to be staying at the club he has represented for more than a decade.

“Looking back I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last 10 years and it is the best place for me to keep progressing,” he said.

“With the squad we have I really believe we have some massively exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to be a part of it moving forward.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: “Maro has gone from a promising academy prospect to a global figure in rugby. He is a world-class player, but what sets Maro apart is his dedication to his craft; the standard he sets, how he goes about his work – on and off the field – and how this expresses his love for the club and for the game.

“We are delighted he will continue to be at the heart of the Saracens project. We know the best of Maro is yet to come.”

Racing 92 have denied England captain Owen Farrell is close to joining the Top 14 club.

The Saracens fly-half, who is missing the Six Nations to look after his mental heath, is reportedly poised for a move to France.

Racing 92 are coached by former England chief Stuart Lancaster, who gave Farrell his international debut in 2012.

A Racing statement said: “Racing 92 is regularly under the aegis of numerous speculations concerning movements within its workforce.

“We are delighted with the appeal of our club Racing 92. However, we deny any agreement concerning the English player Owen Farrell.”

Farrell became England’s leading points scorer at the World Cup and is reportedly out of contract at Saracens at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old has spent all of his career at the club but could now make a surprise move to France.

He has also given England coach Steve Borthwick no indication he plans to return. Farrell is also likely to be unavailable for the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand.

“We are all hopeful Owen will return to the England team at some point soon, but that’s going to be a decision Owen makes,” Borthwick said.

“Owen and I spoke right at the end of the World Cup. We were actually in Paris. We took a walk and he shared some of his thoughts and what he was thinking at that point in time.

“Then he took a period of reflecting and we met a couple of weeks later and he told me of his decision to step away. He expressed some of his feelings, which is clearly a confidential conversation.

“The first thing I’ll say there is I’m full of admiration for this guy – as a man, a player and a leader. It takes a lot of courage to do what he’s done.”

Saracens have been approached for comment.

Billy Vunipola’s red card he received during Saracens’ Investec Champions Cup clash against the Bulls in South Africa has been overturned.

It means that the England number eight is free to play immediately, making him available for Saturday’s European appointment with Connacht.

Vunipola was sent off early in the second half by Italian referee Andrea Piardi for a dangerous strike to the head area of Bulls forward Cameron Hanekom.

The 31-year-old, who appeared by video link before an independent disciplinary panel, accepted that he had committed an act of foul play, but he did not accept it warranted a red card.

Tournament organiser European Professional Club Rugby said: “The committee determined that Vunipola had committed an act of foul play.

“However, it decided that there was insufficient force in the contact to Hanekom’s head to warrant a red card, and the red card was therefore overturned.

“Vunipola is free to play immediately, and EPCR has the right to appeal the decision.”

Saracens were beaten 27-16 by the Bulls in the first of their four Champions Cup pool games.

Owen Farrell will make his first appearance since his decision to step away from Test rugby was announced when Saracens launch their Investec Champions Cup campaign on Saturday.

England captain Farrell will be unavailable for the Six Nations later this season after choosing to take a break from the international game to prioritise his and his family’s mental well-being.

He then missed Saracens’ Gallagher Premiership defeat against Northampton due to a knee problem.

But Saracens rugby director Mark McCall has confirmed the 32-year-old fly-half will face leading South African challengers the Bulls in Pretoria.

“He’s available and he is going to play this weekend,” McCall said. “He has trained fully over the last two days.

“He has enjoyed being with his team-mates, and it is a great opportunity for us all to spend a bit of time together away from the British winter.

“I don’t know how many European Cup games he has played – him and Alex Goode have probably played in more than anybody at the club.

“He is our captain, he is our leader, someone who is respected by everyone at the club. To have him on the field, of course, is an enormous benefit.

“Not just to have him on the field, but have him in the team-room, in the meetings… His contribution is so enormous and it is great to have him here with us.”

Three-time European champions Saracens have won the tournament more than any other English club, although they made a quarter-final exit last term to eventual winners La Rochelle.

And they will tackle a Bulls side currently third in the United Rugby Championship, having won five out of seven league fixtures this season.

McCall added: “We have been really impressed with what we have seen, especially in their last couple of home games. They are strong in all areas.

“Games don’t get much tougher in round one than coming to the Bulls, especially with the run of form they are on, but it is a challenge which usually brings the best out of the group we have got.

“We’ve had a good relationship with this competition for a very long period of time. It has felt really good on the training field from the moment we touched down here.”

Saracens absorbed the loss of three England stars to put Harlequins to the sword in a 38-10 Gallagher Premiership victory at The Stoop.

Ben Earl and Elliot Daly were lost to respective knee and hamstring injuries during the warm-up and just seconds into the game Alex Lozowski was forced off after twisting awkwardly when chasing down Marcus Smith.

The champions took the disruption in their stride, however, as they amassed six tries in a London derby that lacked the spite seen in recent years, with Harlequins far too submissive against the league’s best side.

Both teams’ World Cup players were on parade and it was Maro Itoje who stood out among them, the lock catching the eye with a couple of big runs but also proving a handful at close quarters.

Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt did little to impress England head coach Steve Borthwick, who was watching from the stands, but the fault for a meek Harlequins performance was hardly theirs alone.

Saracens’ pack was typically menacing from start to finish and they supplied the opening try as part of a frantic opening with the excellent Juan Martin Gonzalez driving over from short range.

The champions frequently shuttled the ball across the field and with some success, forcing Quins to scramble out wide.

When the home ruck defence had gone missing near the centre of the pitch, Saracens reacted in a flash with Andy Christie stampeding into space only for the supporting Ivan van Zyl to cut an awkward supporting line.

Quins were breached too easily again on the half-hour mark when a counter attack launched by Alex Goode was given legs by Itoje and a phase later Olly Hartley had barged over.

A line-out drive finished by Jamie George provided Saracens’ next try as the hosts continued to be overpowered up front and as they trudged off for half-time 19-3 behind, there was no obvious way back.

Their outlook continued to deteriorate as Christie added a maul try soon after the interval, registering the bonus point, but only once Itoje had staged a marauding run.

Smith was trying his best to inspire a revival, on one occasion using his footwork to weave into space, and it took a try-saving tackle from Alex Lewington to stop Quins from scoring.

Pressure was building on the Saracens line but they weathered the storm, advanced downfield and used a mixture of forward power and polished back play to cross through Tom Parton.

Lewington and Andre Esterhuizen exchanged tries and Saracens could have plundered one more late on but Tom Willis spilt the ball forward over the line following fine approach work by Gonzalez.

Exeter Chiefs inflicted a record top-flight defeat on defending Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens as they ran amok at Sandy Park.

Rob Baxter’s side were in scintillating form, running in 11 tries including a hat-trick for Josh Hodge as they won 65-10.

In a dominant display from start to finish, Saracens simply had no answer to the power, pace and precision of the Devonians – who bagged a bonus point by the 16th minute and led 41-0 at half-time.

Handed what seemed a tough assignment in the season curtain-raiser, the new and youthful Chiefs were quickly into their attacking stride and scored in the first minute, winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso finishing off a slick home attack when he raced onto an audacious pass from Harvey Skinner down the right flank.

Moments later and with Sarries skipper Alex Lozowski in the sin-bin, the Chiefs struck again, number eight Greg Fisilau attaching himself to the back of a close-range line-out to double the lead.

Saracens were seemingly all at sea, struggling to contain the relentless waves of Exeter attacks. Debutant Ethan Roots bagged a third try, picking up from a few metres out, before Tom Hendrickson brought up the bonus point when he was given the pass from Henry Slade, who had latched onto a clever chip over the top from Tom Cairns.

England international Slade then got in on the try-scoring act himself, picking off a pass in midfield to race clear from halfway and extend his side’s lead to 29-0.

There was no let-up from Baxter’s side as they headed towards the break, Hodge helping himself to a quickfire double – the second after breaking four tackles on the end of a scintillating cross-field move.

The break could not have come at a better time for Saracens and they used the respite as the opportunity to not only regroup, but fathom out a new game plan for the second half.

Whatever was said, it initially had the desired effect as replacement Andy Christie and Alex Lewington combined nicely to send Olly Hartley cantering down the left wing for the score.

It was the spark Saracens had craved, but the Chiefs were soon back on the offensive themselves. Fisilau was held up on the line but Hodge soon claimed his hat-trick score with a jet-propelled burst from deep inside his own half.

Not content with that, the Chiefs continued to pile forward in numbers, bullying Saracens into submission with a brutal assault from all angles. The home pack did much of the donkey work, easing them to within sight of the line, the fruits of which were finished off by Rus Tuima.

To their credit, Saracens refused to throw in the towel, picking themselves off the floor to land a late blow of their own through Scotland international Sean Maitland. It was, however, a little too late in the grand scheme of things.

Indeed, it was the home side who would put the shine on a polished performance, bagging two more tries in the dying embers through replacements Ross Vintcent and Niall Armstrong.

Ben Earl admitted it was his England career igniting that convinced him to re-sign with Saracens and play his part in lifting the domestic club out of the doldrums.

Earlier this week Earl signed a long-term contract with the Gallagher Premiership champions to continue his upward trajectory in a 2023 that has produced his first Test start and selection in Steve Borthwick’s World Cup squad.

Now that rampaging displays against Argentina, Japan and Chile have impressed audiences in France, he has become one of Borthwick’s star performers, who is set to be restored to the back row against Samoa on Saturday.

Having struggled to convince Eddie Jones and then being discarded by Borthwick in the Six Nations earlier this year in order to work on his conditioning, the 25-year-old admits he was considering his options overseas until his England outlook changed.

“You never shut that door. I guess it is a lot easier to move abroad if you are not playing for England,” Earl said.

“If you are not in the picture, it can be nice sometimes to have a change of scene, but thankfully at the moment I’m playing for England and that made my decision for me.

“Steve has always been very honest with me about what it would take for me to play for England and hopefully I’m starting to make some steps in those directions.

“Now it is just a no-brainer, I’m fully focussed on playing for Saracens and hopefully for England for a long time.”

Earl has chosen to stay in the Gallagher Premiership during a period of upheaval.

Jersey Reds’ announcement last week that they had entered administration lifts the total of professional clubs to have gone out of business in the past year to four, painting a grim picture of the finances of the English game.

A closer relationship between the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby is set to produce a series of ‘hybrid contracts’ that will give Borthwick greater control over around 20 of his Tests stars.

Earl would be a prime candidate for one of the contracts that would see a player’s club receive greater compensation and he believes his generation has a role to play in restoring the sport to health.

“We are hearing good things about the plans for the league over the next couple of years – salary cap stuff and commercial stuff. We are already seeing some small changes and that can only be a good thing,” he said.

“There have been times when players have shut themselves off from the commercial side of the game.

“And we as a younger generation in terms of coming through and taking on the mantle of the league, we need to be a bit more open by putting ourselves out there.

“We’ve had some talks with the league. We’re asking for a bit more, they’re asking for a bit more. Everyone is willing and saying the right things, so hopefully that’s a step in the right direction.”

Bristol will host Leicester to kick off the new Gallagher Premiership season on Friday, October 13 before champions Saracens start the defence of their title with a trip to Exeter.

After Wasps, Worcester and London Irish all entered administration while Championship winners Jersey Reds did not meet the minimum standards criteria for promotion, the new top-flight campaign will feature just 10 teams.

The revamped schedule for the 2023-24 campaign gives all clubs one home fixture in the opening two weeks of the season.

After Saturday’s 1.30pm kick-off at Exeter’s Sandy Park, Bath host Newcastle at 3pm while Harlequins will travel to Gloucester.

To complete the opening weekend’s action, Sale – beaten by Saracens in the Premiership final at Twickenham – will welcome Northampton on October 15, which will also be broadcast live on TNT Sports.

The Premiership final is set to take place on June 8 at Twickenham.

There will be a ‘Derby Weekend’ in round six from November 17 to 19, which will see Sale play Newcastle and Bath host Bristol on the Friday night.

The action on the Saturday sees Northampton travel to Leicester with Saracens at London rivals Harlequins. Both matches will be shown live ahead of Exeter playing Gloucester on the Sunday afternoon.

Clubs will also have one home fixture over the Christmas period, which it is hoped will allow families to enjoy games together.

December 30 will see Harlequins’ ‘Big Game’ series back in the festive schedule when they take on Gloucester at Twickenham.

Following a break of league action during the Guinness Six Nations, Saracens play Harlequins at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in March before Northampton face Quins back at Twickenham during round 16 in April.

As well as the live schedule on TNT Sports, which has been announced through until January 2024, there will be highlights of all 90 regular-season games on ITV along with seven full free-to-air fixtures and the Premiership final.

Premiership Rugby chief executive Simon Massie-Taylor said: “Today is always an exciting day in the sporting calendar and I know that our dedicated Gallagher Premiership Rugby fans, players and clubs are counting down until the big kick-off.

“It’s great to welcome our new-look broadcast partner TNT Sports in their debut season under their new brand and we look forward to delivering unmissable world-class sporting entertainment together.”

::Opening Premiership fixtures: October 13 – Bristol v Leicester (7.45pm, TNT Sports); October 14 – Exeter v Saracens (1.30pm, TNT Sports), Bath v Newcastle (3pm), Gloucester v Harlequins (3pm); October 15 – Sale v Northampton (1.30pm, TNT Sports)

Jackson Wray believes new Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens deserve more respect for emerging from one of the bleakest episodes in the league’s history as a title-winning force once more.

Sale were defeated 35-25 in a gripping final at Twickenham on Saturday as Saracens claimed their sixth domestic crown with captain Owen Farrell producing a masterclass at fly-half.

It provided an element of redemption after they were shaded 15-12 by Leicester in last year’s showpiece, which they reached in their first season back in the Premiership having been relegated in 2020 for repeated salary cap breaches.

As part of their punishment they were fined £5.4million and while some players departed, the bulk of them – including their core of England stars – remained for the campaign spent in the Championship.

The loyalty shown has enabled Saracens to return to the summit of the English game and Wray, who is retiring after 13 years as a professional at his only club, has sounded a note of defiance.

“I don’t think people talk about this enough. It was the biggest fine in sporting history in a game where you lose money every year. Let’s just put that in perspective for a moment,” Wray said.

“And we have got through it. That says a lot more about the owners. They said, ‘we made a mistake and we will stay and put it right’.

“Together we have done it. We have done our bit as players – stayed and fought and gone against everyone.

“Even in this final. Everyone was with Sale. Every club in the land was with Sale. Do you know what? That’s how we like it. That is how we have always liked it. No one wants us to win and we don’t care.

“We want to do well for each other and well for the club because this club has given us everything. It has given me everything for 17 years and the least I can do is pull on this shirt with pride every week.”

Saracens’ celebrations spill over into Sunday, with the squad holding a retro sports shirt fancy dress event in London.

For Maro Itoje victory over Sale has placed the sight of Freddie Burns landing a last-gasp drop goal to clinch the title for Leicester 12 months earlier firmly in the rear-view mirror.

“I’m just happy. Last year we fell short, we got close, a drop goal was a painful way to lose,” Itoje said.

“I was tired of seeing that Freddie Burns drop goal every five minutes on BT Sport! Thank God I don’t have to go through another year of that. All in all, super happy!

“You can’t really hold on to the past too much but going through the pain of last year, I think it is fair to say we have been fairly consistent all throughout the season.

“Even when the internationals were away, the guys again stepped up. And obviously we have a few internationals, so those guys have been fantastic.”

Page 1 of 2
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.