ESPN and Sky Sports have announced the latest set of live Aviva Premiership matches that will be broadcast during February and March.
Covering rounds 14 to 17 of the 2012/13 regular season, 12 live games will be shown across both networks as the race for the semi-final play-offs amongst the top sides in the league table intensifies.
For the first time in the history of English Premiership rugby a match will be played on an artificial surface, with Saracens hosting Exeter Chiefs at their new home of Allianz Park in Barnet on February 16, exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Full details of live Aviva Premiership coverage during February and March below:
ESPN has announced its next set of exclusively live Aviva Premiership games as the season builds towards its climax in May.
The first round of new live ESPN matches starts in Round 14 when bottom-placed Sale Sharks host Exeter Chiefs on Friday, February 8.
The following day brings a London derby as leaders and reigning champions Harlequins face London Wasps under the floodlights at The Stoop, with Wasps featuring again on February 17 as Gloucester visit Adams Park.
On the evening of February 22, Gloucester take on Worcester Warriors, while February 23 sees a repeat of the 2010 and 2011 Aviva Premiership Finals as ESPN broadcasts Leicester Tigers against Saracens live from Welford Road.
The clash between Bath and Gloucester kicks off the month of March when they face each other on Friday, March 1.
The final game of ESPN’s new set of fixtures is another London derby, as second-placed Saracens face London Welsh on the artificial surface at Allianz Park in Barnet.
ESPN’s live Aviva Premiership coverage is broadcast on-site at all the grounds, with lead presenter Mark Durden-Smith alongside analysts Austin Healey and Ben Kay, as well asa special guest from the world of rugby each week.
Match commentary comes from Nick Mullins together with Healey and Kay, and Sarra Elgan will continue as ESPN’s chief rugby reporter, bringing all the news and player interviews from pitchside.
ESPN will have exclusive live coverage of one semi-final and the Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham at the end of the season, and will also continue to air extensive Aviva Premiership highlights, with a 60-minute programme airing each Monday evening.
Simon Potter, senior director of programming for ESPN, Europe Middle East & Africa, said: “This season has already produced some great rugby, and the fact that just five points separates first from sixth demonstrates the high quality and competitiveness of the Aviva Premiership.
“We’re looking forward to bringing fans more great fixtures as teams battle for the semi-final places and to avoid relegation.”
The first English Premiership rugby match to be played on artificial turf will be screened live on Sky Sports.
Saracens will move into their new home at Allianz Park in Barnet, featuring its unique artificial surface, before the Round 15 clash with the Exter Chiefs, which will be shown live on Sky Sports as part of its next set of live games.
The Saracens/Exeter clash is the first half of a mouth-watering Sky Sports’ double header in Aviva Premiership Rugby on February 16 as Harlequins take on Leicester Tigers later in the day, in a repeat of last year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby final.
Three other matches will be broadcast on Sky Sports during February and March, including Northampton v Gloucester, London Irish v Wasps and Harlequins v Exeter.
Alex Payne presents Sky’s rugby coverage, with analysts including Dewi Morris, Will Greenwood, Ieuan Evans, Scott Quinnell, Dean Ryan and Paul Wallace and Michael Lynagh.
Respected Sky Sports commentary duo Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes will be behind the microphone for many of the big games during the season.. . Round 14 Friday 8th February Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs 19:45 – ESPN Saturday 9th February Northampton Saints v Gloucester 12:30 – Sky Sports Harlequins v Wasps 20:00 – ESPN Round 15 Saturday 16th February Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 15:00 – Sky Sports Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17:15 – Sky Sports Sunday 17th February Wasps v Gloucester 13:00 – ESPN Round 16 Friday 22nd February Gloucester v Worcester Warriors 19:45 – ESPN Saturday 23rd February Leicester Tigers v Saracens 20:00 – ESPN Sunday 24th February London Irish v Wasps 12:05 – Sky Sports Round 17 Friday 1st March Bath v Gloucester 20:00 – ESPN Saturday 2nd March Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs 15:15 – Sky Sports Sunday 3rd March Saracens v London Welsh 14:15 – ESPN . . Free-to-air highlights from every round of the Aviva Premiership will be shown on ITV1 and ITV4 . .