After nine months of compelling drama just two sides remain in the hunt to be crowned champions of England in the 2013 Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham.
Leicester Tigers, finalists in each of the last nine years, take on Northampton Saints who will be making their debut in English rugby union’s showpiece occasion.
ESPN will broadcast its last Aviva Premiership Final exclusively live from Twickenham on Saturday, May 25, with extended highlights on ITV and Sky Sports.
It is world rugby union’s biggest domestic club final, having sold out Twickenham for the last five years and the 2013 edition will do just the same.
The two finalists have spent nine long months vying for the right to be crowned champions.
Now in its tenth edition, the English Premiership Final sees the culmination of 135 games between the top 12 teams, with the season all coming down to this one game, when the best two sides in the country go head to head in a winner-takes-all encounter.
There is no doubt that Leicester boast the greater experience and better form coming into the match, having played in every final since the 2004/05 season.
They also possess an impressive unbeaten streak in the league having not lost since February.
Leicester are bidding to be English champions for a record tenth time, however they have lost in each of the past two Premiership Finals – to Saracens in 2011 and Harlequins last year.
They did gain revenge for last year’s defeat to Quins in this year’s semi-final, beating the team who finished third in the league by 33-16.
Northampton will make their first Premiership Final appearance after breaking their streak of losing in the semi-final for the past three seasons.
They become the ninth different club to reach a Premiership final as they attempt to carry off the champions of England crown for the first time in their history.
They shocked regular season table-toppers Saracens in last weekend’s semi-final, springing into a 17-0 half-time lead and holding on to win 27-13 at Allianz Park.
It is the second time that Leicester and Northampton have met in a final in the last two seasons after their meeting in the LV= Cup final in March 2012, where the Tigers won 26-14.
The Tigers have won their last seven games against the Saints in all competitions since Northampton won 27-19 at Franklin’s Gardens in the Premiership in September 2010.
While many experts are overwhelmingly backing Leicester Tigers to secure their tenth English crown, a dramatic and exciting climax to the season is in store at HQ.
Follow the Aviva Premiership Final 2013 on ESPN, ITV and Sky Sports:
ESPN is the only place to see the 2013 Aviva Premiership Final live as the curtain falls on its coverage of English rugby union’s top flight.
Live coverage will begin at 2pm – one-hour ahead of a 3pm kick off – from ESPN’s custom built studio outside the stadium, bringing viewers all the atmosphere and excitement from the build-up to the game.
Mark Durden-Smith leads ESPN’s presenting team alongside former England stars Austin Healey and Ben Kay.
Healey and Kay will also provide insights and analysis from pitchside during half-time.
Nick Mullins leads the commentary team, while reporter Sarra Elgan will conduct interviews with the key players and coaches.
Speaking to ESPN UK ahead of the final, Ben Kay said: “I’m excited to have a seat at the first East Midlands Aviva Premiership Final.
“The fixture has thrown up some of the most pulsating matches in the league’s history.
“And living on the border of the two counties, I’m all too aware of how important victory in this one is to both sets of fans.”
The 2013 final marks the culmination of ESPN’s third and final season broadcasting the Aviva Premiership as BT Sport takes over exclusive live rights from next season.
Every one of its live matches during the past three seasons has been broadcast on-site from its special set, designed to bring viewers and fans closer to the action and capture the unique atmosphere of club rugby.
All of the current ESPN team, except for presenter Durden-Smith, will be involved with BT Sport’s rugby output from August.
Ross Hair, Managing Director, ESPN, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “We’re delighted to bring rugby fans the climax of the Aviva Premiership season exclusively live for a third consecutive year.
“It has been a hard-fought, exciting campaign so far, and I’m sure this final between local rivals Leicester v Northampton will prove just as thrilling.”. Saturday 25th May Aviva Premiership Final 2013: Leicester v Northampton LIVE: 2.00pm-5.30pm – ESPN
ITV will have free-to-air coverage of the climax of the Aviva Premiership season as Leicester Tigers take on Northampton for the ultimate prize in English club rugby.
There will be three chances for fans to catch ITV’s one-hour highlights shows, the first of which will air on ITV4 on Saturday evening at 11pm.
Two further opportunities follow on Sunday evening with a repeat showing on ITV4 at 8pm, then again at 11.45pm on ITV.
Craig Doyle introduces all the action alongside former Northampton and England lock Martin Bayfield, who will provide expert analysis and interviews with the key players and coaches.
Match coverage and commentary will be provided by the ESPN team of Nick Mullins and Ben Kay.
ITV’s highlights will also include a review of this season’s Aviva Premiership campaign and a look at some of the best tries scored throughout the season.
The programme will also be available to view for up to 30 days via the catch-up service ITV Player.. Saturday 25th May Aviva Premiership Final 2013: Leicester v Northampton Highlights: 11.00pm-12.00am – ITV4 Sunday 26th May Aviva Premiership Final 2013: Leicester v Northampton (rpts) Highlights: 8.00pm-9.00pm – ITV4 Highlights: 11.45pm-12.45pm – ITV
Sky Sports will screen extended highlights of the 2013 Aviva Premiership Final from Twickenham just a few hours after the match has concluded.
The first airing will be at 10.30pm on Saturday evening on Sky Sports 3 and the programme will be repeated at various times throughout Sunday.
Match commentary comes from Johnnie Hammond and Ieuan Evans.
The 2013 final brings to end Sky Sports’ involvement in the English Premiership after almost 20 years of coverage as BT Sport take over the exclusive live rights from next season.. Saturday 25th May Aviva Premiership Final 2013: Leicester v Northampton Extended Highlights: 10.30pm-12.00pm – Sky Sports 3
Live radio commentary will be broadcast on both BBC Radio 5 live and talkSPORT.
Ian Robertson and Alastair Eykyn lead the BBC 5 live commentary team with Brian Moore and Matt Dawson providing analysis.
Over on talkSPORT, Georgie Bingham presents coverage from Twickenham, while commentary comes from Andrew McKenna and James Haskell.