Bedford have announced that Aviva Premiership side Northampton Saints will visit Goldington Road on Friday, March 17 to fill the void in the fixture list following the demise of London Welsh.
After it was confirmed in January that the Exiles would cease to exist as a professional club after being refused permission to stay in the Greene King IPA Championship, the Blues immediately set about finding a suitable opponent to fulfil the Friday night fixture and they’ve captured one of the biggest teams in the country.
Speaking about the fixture, director of rugby Mike Rayer said: “I’m sure that everybody will be thrilled that Jim Mallinder and Northampton Saints have agreed to make the trip along the A428 to pay us a visit at Goldington Road and resume our friendly rivalry.
“I think that it is fair to say that Northampton Saints have proven to be our knights in shining armour on this occasion. London Welsh’s expulsion from the league not only meant the loss of five valuable points but also the prospect of losing revenue associated with the fixture.
“To be able to host a team of Northampton’s quality will be great for us and I’m sure the fans will love it as well.”
With the Anglo-Welsh Cup final set to take place on the same weekend as Bedford’s non-fixture, the majority of Premiership clubs are also without a game.
Northampton, who are still well placed to take a top four spot in the Aviva Premiership, are keen keep momentum flowing at Franklin’s Gardens and see the encounter as a great opportunity to prevent any potential ring-rust.
Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder said: “The unfortunate circumstances surrounding London Welsh have had a significant knock-on effect for clubs like Bedford and we were happy to step in to help the Blues out.
“With no match ourselves that weekend we will be using it as an opportunity to give our squad some game time ahead of our important Aviva Premiership run-in.”
The Saints last visited Goldington Road for a pre-season friendly in August 2013 when the visitors ran out 45-21 winners and the encounter - which kicks off at 7.45pm - will be the perfect start to the weekend at Goldington Road which also includes the annual beer festival along with all the final Six Nations matches on the Saturday.
Tickets for the game against Northampton Saints can be bought online at www.bedfordrugby.co.uk with the standard early bird discount applying. All Season Ticket holders, pre-purchased tickets and hospitality guests will gain entry for the game with no additional charge.