Harlequins’ new fly-half Ruaridh Jackson is determined to put London Double Header heartbreak behind him when he takes to Twickenham for the season opener against Bristol Rugby.
The 28-year-old lined up for Wasps in their 34-28 defeat to Saracens two years ago, his first Aviva Premiership Rugby experience since moving south of the border and a game the Scot admitted his side should have won.
He was to avenge that defeat in 2015, when the London Double Header was played in November, but admits there would be no better feeling than getting his campaign underway with an impressive display at Twickenham.
Despite coming up against the new boys, Jackson knows it will be far from straightforward as Quins face a team the Scottish international believes are more than suited to the Aviva Premiership Rugby challenge.
“The London Double Header is a great way to start the season, having the chance to play in front of massive crowds at Twickenham and we’re lucky enough to play against the new boys so it will be interesting to see how they shape up,” said Jackson.
“It should be a great spectacle, you always try and analyse teams and get to know how they operate, but they’ve just been promoted and have a lot of new faces.
“One thing we know for sure is that they’ll be coming at us full-on to get a first win.
“My first London Double Header experience was pretty gutting, we [Wasps] were on top for large periods against Saracens so it was a bit heart-breaking.
“But to come down from Scotland and have that experience in front of 70,000 people on the first matchday was something pretty special.
“To play in front of that sort of crowd at club level is something very different, hopefully I can take everything I learnt from that game into this occasion.
“It thankfully wasn’t too nerve-wracking, there are always nerves when you play any game but having that atmosphere is something pretty special and you thrive on it.”
For Harlequins, the clash with Bristol holds more weight than just enjoying an occasion.
Finishes of seventh and eighth in the last two Aviva Premiership Rugby campaigns have frustrated those at Jackson’s new side, a league position the 28-year-old is determined to improve upon.
“We want to keep up that running start, we’ve had some success in the opener but we know that the lungs will be hit early on,” he added.
“We slipped away towards the back end of last season and finished outside the top four, there’s now a huge focus to getting back there, reaching the Champions Cup and challenging for Aviva Premiership Rugby titles.
“It’s such a historical arena to play rugby, a big day out for the fans and it’s a really exciting start to the new season.
“You don’t really know what to expect at this time of the year, who’s going to spring a surprise or which signings will help a team play a new style of rugby.”
Start the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season in style with two games from £25 at Twickenham. Harlequins v Bristol Rugby and Saracens v Worcester Warriors in the London Double Header, September 3. Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk
Featured image courtesy of Premiership Rugby/Getty Images