Sunday, 28 July 2013

Fixture Dates and Grids

Tigers fixture list for the 2013/14 season is practically complete after the last month has seen the Premiership, Heineken Cup and LV= Cup all release their fixtures. As is the sport's new custom they won't actually confirm when 5 of the 32 guaranteed games will be played just yet and can change any of the others with 5 weeks notice.  Anyway ...

Tigers kick off their season at home to Worcester on the 8th of September, the latest start to a season in a non-Rugby World Cup year since the game went professional in 1995. Tigers then head to old rivals Bath, exactly 100 years and 1 day since our first fixture with the West Country club on September 13th 1913 (Tigers won 19-5). 

The 21st of September sees Deano returning with his 2nd Tier Champions Newcastle; a trip to Exeter is squeezed in before the derby match with Northampton.  Tensions will surely be running high as Tigers fans and officials are still furious with the behaviour Dorian West, who incited this summer's long running saga over Cockerill's contact with the 4th official, and Courtney Lawes whose late and dangerous tackle was met with no further punishment, the fact he went on the England tour this summer obviously had no effect on the RFU's decision to let him off.  Equally Northampton will be smarting from once again losing their rag, and another final, against their perennial rivals. 

Returning Lions
Tigers' Lions will have all returned by this point.  The EPS agreement between the RFU and the Clubs stipulates that players must have an 11 week summer gap between games.  A game, however, is defined as more than 40 minutes, so its not as simple as merely counting off 11 weeks from the last test.  Well it is Geoff Parling.  

Tom Croft last played more than a half in the first test so is available straightaway at the start of the season; Manu Tuilagi and Dan Cole both played against the Melbourne Rebels on the 25th of June and the Youngs brothers played the 2nd test 4 days later so all 4 will be available for the trip to the Rec.  Geoff Parling will be the last Lion as he will be in line to return against his former club Newcastle.

The big games keep on coming thick and fast as Tigers will then travel to Belfast to open their account in Europe.  Both sides won their group last year and both lost away quarter finals, Tigers going down to eventual Champions Toulon whilst Ulster lost to Saracens at Twickenham.  Tigers will be looking to avenge their previous two trips to the Northern Irish capital, we were manshamed 33-0 in 2004 and humiliated 41-7 in 2012.  Third time lucky?

Due to a clash with Leicester City v Huddersfield, Tigers have a rare Friday night European game against Treviso, our first Friday night at Welford Road in Europe since playing Stade Francais in 2004. 
Complete Premiership Fixtures Grid

The England players then disappear for a month for the Autumn internationals and the Tigers take on Wasps and Quins before the LV Cup starts and the fringe players will get their chance on another Friday night against the Ospreys. 

The England players are back for the visit of London Irish on November 23rd, though as it falls in the IRB's test window we will be missing Ayerza, Goneva and if selected by their country Mulipola and Mafi.  All are available to Gloucester in front of the Shed the following week before returning to Europe with back to back fixtures against Montpellier. 

For the 4th time in 5 years Sale are the Tigers Christmas opponents as they come to Leicester on the 28th of December before Bath are welcomed in the return fixture on the 4th of January.  Tigers commercial team will be looking for two sell outs to swell the club's coffers. 

Tigers tackle the fixture that is already looking like a rather large banana skin when they travel to Treviso in January as the Heineken Cup resumes.  It took a last minute penalty try to save the Tigers bacon last time and a 80m try 4 minutes from time the trip before.  It will not be easy and sooner rather than later we will come up short in Italy.
Fixture Grid for Heineken Cup

The Heineken Cup group stage is rounded off as Ulster visit in what we all hope will be for a home quarter final.

The 6 Nations then swings into gear and we have to make do with two more LV Cup fixtures before the Premiership starts up again after a month off.

The 6 Nations period will be a key time that tests Cockerill's squad depth to its limit.  We travel to Worcester, London Irish and Newcastle in what will be key games, just one win might be enough to secure that always important home play off game.  Gloucester are the visitors to Welford Road in the depleted period and could be missing as many men as the home side with Lancaster seemingly a fan of Morgan, Kvesic, Burns, Twelvetrees and May. 

Just like last season straight after the 6 Nations we face Exeter, though this time at home instead of away, then face the Saints at Franklin's Gardens before any possible European Quarter Final.  I do wonder about these coincidences, are the fixtures truly drawn at random?  They seem to be almost as consistent as they were when he fixture secretaries drew them up pipe and scotch in hand. 

In a further coincidence just like last season we face Wasps the week after the Quarter Finals, then travel down to what is traditionally a happy hunting ground in the Stoop.  A week is set aside for the European Semi Finals, hopefully a taxing week rather than a resting one, before the season is finished off with a trip to Sale's new home in Salford and the visit of Saracens.  The last time we had Saracens on the last day of the season was of course in 2010 when Brendan Venter, a medical doctor in his spare time apparently, went down in Crumbie folklore and Saracens won a dead rubber.

Then the business end.

Date  H/A  Opponent
08/09/2013  H Worcester
14/09/2013  A Bath
21/09/2013  H Newcastle
29/09/2013  A Exeter
05/10/2013  H Northampton
11/10/2013  A Ulster
18/10/2013  H Treviso
27/10/2013  A Wasps
02/11/2013  H Quins
08/11/2013  H Ospreys(LV)
16/16/17 WE  A Worcester(LV)
23/11/2013  H Irish
30/11/2013  A Gloucester
08/12/2013  H Montpellier
15/12/2013  A Montpellier
21/12/2013  A Saracens
28/12/2013  H Sale
04/01/2014  H Bath
10/11/12 WE  A Treviso
17/18/19 WE  H Ulster
24/25/26 WE  A Quins (LV)
31/1/2 WE  H Bath (LV)
07/02/2014  A Worcester
15/02/2014  H Gloucester
23/02/2014  A Irish
02/03/2014  A Newcastle
7/8/9 WE LV Semi
16/03/2014  N LV Final
22/03/2014  H Exeter
29/03/2014  A Northampton
5/6 WE Euro QF
12/04/2014  H Wasps
19/04/2014  A Quins
26/27 WE
Euro SF
02/05/2014  A Sale
10/05/2014  H Saracens
Prem Semi
24/05/2014  N Euro Final
31/05/2014  N Prem Final

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