Premiership Immortals - The Debate ShowAug 29
The 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season moves through the gears this weekend with three blockbuster encounters live on BT Sport, including champions Leicester Tigers at Northampton Saints in the East Midlands derby.
Round 2 saw routine wins for Northampton, Sale Sharks and Bristol Bears, while five-time Premiership champions Saracens got their campaign up and running with a hard-fought win at London rivals Quins.
Elsewhere Tigers returned to winning ways at home to Newcastle before Exeter rounded off the weekend with a bonus-point win at Worcester.
With another fascinating weekend in store, read on for previews of all six Round 3 games, including live stream information for our televised matches.
Friday 23 September
Two former giants of English rugby go head-to-head on Friday evening as last season's bottom feeders Bath welcome Wasps to The Rec.
From 1989 onwards, these two famous old sides have shared 12 league titles between them but both clubs find themselves in dire straits going into this weekend's match up.
With the threat of impending action from HMRC, Wasps this week gave notice in the High Court that they intend to appoint administrators to "protect the club's interests".
The Midlands club has insisted the move "does not mean the business is in administration", insisting it will provide "a crucial period of grace" as it tries to "secure the long-term future of the group".
Wasps, Premiership champions in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008, face the prospect of immediate relegation if they fail to avoid entering administration during the season.
It has been confirmed that Friday's Premiership match at Bath will go ahead as normal but it all provides for an uncertain backdrop as winless Wasps look to get their season up and running at The Rec.
Meanwhile Bath will be hoping to get off the mark after suffering back-to-back defeats to Bristol and Sale.
Fans were hoping for a bounce back in form under new head coach Johann van Graan after a 13th-place finish last season, but the South African's reign has got off to the worst possible start.
Saturday 24 September
Local bragging rights will once again be on the line when near neighbours Northampton and Leicester square off in the 250th instalment of the East Midlands derby.
The history books favour the visitors with Leicester boasting 140 wins to Northampton's 90 and 19 draws.
Hosts Saints will be desparate to bring their rivals down a peg or two after watching Leicester end their nine-year wait for a Premiership title last season.
Having beaten Northampton home and away in the regular season, table-toppers Leicester cruised past their East Midlands foes in the semi-finals on their way to a fifth league crown.
Now revenge will be high on the agenda as Saints target a sixth straight home win for the first time since 2015.
Both sides have begun this term with one victory and one defeat as the two teams renew acquaintances in front of the BT Sport cameras this Saturday at Franklin's Garden.
Saints welcome back England trio Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam and Tommy Freeman, while Freddie Steward could make his first appearance of the season at full-back for Leicester.
It may only be September, but there are sure to be fireworks in Bristol this Saturday when two of the league's most exciting attacking sides go toe-to-toe at Ashton Gate.
Hosts Bristol are one of only three sides left in the competition to be two from two, along with early-season pacesetters Sale and Exeter Chiefs.
Now the Bears put their unbeaten record on the line against a London Irish outfit that have lit up the league in the few first weeks of the campaign.
The Exiles crossed for seven tries in a bonus-point win over Worcester in Round 1 before losing out to Northampton in a 60-point thriller last weekend.
England prospects Henry Arundell and Ollie Hassell-Collins have racked up four tries between them so far, making Irish one of the most watchable sides in the league.
Their hosts on Saturday Bristol have made a fast start to 2022/23 after ending last term with a whimper.
Pat Lam's side finished 10th in the 2021/22 standings but the Bristolians have an unblemished record going into Round 3.
The Bears have not won their opening three league games since 1999 and a win on Saturday would take Lam's side top of the table with Sale on a bye and Exeter due to meet Harlequins on Sunday.
Saracens will be out to make it a perfect start to the new term when they welcome Gloucester to the StoneX Stadium.
The five-time winners of the competition sat out Round 1 on a bye but Mark McCall's men hit the ground running last weekend with a hard-fought victory over bitter rivals Harlequins.
Welcoming back the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Billy Vunipola after their summer exploits with England, Saracens battled back from 17-0 down to beat Quins in a thrilling London derby at Twickenham Stoop.
Speaking after the game, Sarries boss McCall said: "We chose to start Maro, Billy and Owen and they were a big part of why we won.
"Jamie's and Mako's experience coming off the bench at this kind of place is good, but it was a good team performance."
Next up for last season's beaten finalists is a visit from a Gloucester side that missed Round 2 on a bye.
The Cherry and Whites head to Barnet with a single win under their belt after producing a stunning second-half comeback to down Wasps in Round 1.
George Skivington's side made the rest of the league sit up and take notice as the West Country men scored 27 unanswered points to complete one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Premiership history.
Glos are now being tipped as genuine play-off contenders this season but Saturday's trip to the StoneX will provide an early acid test of their title credentials.
Worcester Warriors must again put ongoing uncertainty around the club's future aside as they welcome Newcastle Falcons to Sixways.
Warriors were served with a winding-up petition by HMRC over an unpaid £6m tax bill and are thought to have total debts of £25m.
The Midlands club opened up their Premiership campaign with a 36-21 defeat to Exeter.
There was serious doubt over whether the match would take place and it was only confirmed 48 hours beforehand after Warriors obtained a safety certificate allowing them to play in front of a reduced capacity.
The Warriors now face the prospect of being suspended from all competitions unless they can provide a credible plan for the future of the club by Monday.
Addressing the media on Friday lunchtime, Warriors director of rugby Steve Diamond said: "The mindset is that it's our last game at Sixways ever.
"I'm really proud of the lads going out tomorrow. There's no team talk needed.
"The result is unimportant. It's irrelevant to me, but not the performance. We're still professional sportsmen.
"I never thought it would get to this position, but it has. There is an unbelievably good feeling in the place. We've not got anarchy in the ranks. But we'll see where that goes after Monday."
Saturday's visitors Newcastle are winless from a tough start to the campaign that has seen them face-off against 2021 champions Harlequins and current holders Leicester.
Sunday 25 September
Round 3 comes to a close with a mouth-watering match up as Exeter and Harlequins go head-to-head in a repeat of their 2021 classic at Twickenham.
Quins came out on top that day as winger Louis Lynagh scored two lates tries in a thrilling 40-38 triumph to seal their first Premiership crown for nine years.
15 months on from one of the greatest finals in living memory, BT Sport cameras heads to Sandy Park to see if Exeter can preserve their 100 per cent start to the season.
Rob Baxter's men stunned holders Leicester on opening weekend before making light work of Worcester last time out.
Now the two-time Premiership winners welcome Harlequins to Devon where the Londoners have won only once since 2014.
Quins kicked off their campaign with a 41-30 win at Newcastle before blowing a 17-0 lead in defeat to local rivals Saracens last time out.
Visitors Quins should have Marcus Smith available for selection for the first time this season. According to RFU player welfare regulations, the fly-half has had to sit out the opening two rounds of the season but should make his league bow this Sunday.