sport

Tough start for Worcester

Relegated Worcester have been handed a tough opening to the Greene King IPA Championship season, with the Warriors set to travel to Bristol.

Dean Ryan's side are hoping to make an instant return to the top-flight, however Bristol have their sights set on the Premiership too having missed out in the play-off final to London Welsh.

Worcester have been busy rebuilding their squad, with 17 new additions, while Bristol have also been playing ahead - with Ian Evans the latest high-profile addition to their star-studded squad.

Doncaster, who return to the Championship after a 12-month absence following their relegation in 2013, kick-off against Plymouth, while Yorkshire Carnegie travel to Cornish Pirates in a mouth-watering clash.

London Scottish and Rotherham Titans will go head-to-head in their opening game, while Nottingham entertain Bedford and Moseley welcome Jersey.

The season will get underway on September 5, with play-offs set to start on May 1.

RFU Professional Rugby Director Rob Andrew said: "We've worked very closely with the Championship clubs to produce a fixture calendar which reflects the growing demands of the professional league, specifically bringing the season end forward to allow for a longer rest and planning period between campaigns.

\"The British & Irish Cup has also been brought forward, with the competition now finishing in early April to allow for less congestion during the Championship play-offs.\"

The RFU have also confirmed the return of the Championship XV side, with a November fixture against Canada.

"We're delighted to be bringing the Championship XV game back into the league season\", commented Geoff Irvine, Chairman of the Championship Clubs Committee.

"As highlighted by the sell-out Maori All Blacks fixture at Castle Park, these games offer a great appeal for Championship supporters and players.

\"To have a group of players come together who would otherwise be playing against each other is a unique experience, and to do that against an International touring side is very special. I hope supporters from across the Championship clubs will support the game in November and come cheer on our boys.\"