COVENTRY Rugby will begin the 2023/24 Championship season with a mouth-watering trip to reigning champions Jersey Reds.
Alex Rae’s side travel to Jersey on the opening weekend of the season (October 21) before hosting Caldy in their first home fixture of the campaign at Butts Park Arena (October 28).
And Coventry finish the season with a home game against Jersey (May 25) after the islanders were denied promotion by the sport’s governing body last season due to their ground failing to comply with regulations.
Coventry face newly-promoted Cambridge in round seven (December 16) before hosting Nottingham on Boxing Day (December 26) and travelling to Bedford Blues on New Year’s Eve (December 31).
Rae’s men travel to like title contenders Ealing Trailfinders in round five (November 25) with the return meeting at Butts Park Arena scheduled for round 15 (March 9).
Coventry head coach, Rae, said: “Playing our first game in Jersey against the defending champions is a really exciting start for the squad.
“There won’t be any easy games but perhaps the one we’re most looking forward to is the visit of Nottingham to the Butts Park Arena over Christmas when I’m sure the ground will be packed out and the atmosphere will be incredible.”
Coventry’s chief executive, Nick Johnston, added: “Under the direction of a Coventry-born head coach our exciting young squad played some brilliant rugby last season and thoroughly deserved to go so close to lifting the title.
“Our 3G pitch is ideally suited to a fast, flowing attacking game and no one who came to the Butts left disappointed with what they saw.
“With everything that has happened in the last year we now find ourselves the leading rugby club not just in our city but also in the wider West Midlands.
“Season Membership sales are already very strong and we are hoping we can pack out the Butts for all our home games and make it a real rugby hot bed where visiting teams fear coming.”
The Championship season is starting later than usual due to the staging of the 2023 World Cup in France during September and October.
And a new two-leg play-off structure for promotion to the Premiership will take place on the weekends of May 31 to June 2 and June 7 to 9.
The Championship winners (provided it meets the minimum standards criteria) will face the Premiership’s bottom club for a place in the top flight.
During the World Cup period, Coventry will be participating in the Premiership Cup with the pool stages to start on September 8 to 10 – fixtures will be released in due course.
Coventry enjoyed an excellent 2022/23 campaign to finish third in the table on 88 points and hope to challenge at the top end of the league again this coming season.
All fixtures are subject to change.