WORCESTER Warriors kick off their pre-season on Saturday against Championship new boys Hartpury at Sixways (4pm), writes John Dolan.

Having risen up through the divisions Hartpury went from National Division Three South West in 2010 to the RFU Championship this season.

Their remarkable rise through the leagues was topped off with a 100 per cent record in National One last season in which they won all of their 30 games, finishing the season with a whopping 148 points.

The Gloucestershire-based side are based at Hartpury College and their site is used as the main training facilities for Premiership team Gloucester.

The college is also where the Gloucester and England Rugby Academy is based and there is a strong link between the two sides.

The Championship team are made up of mostly students and staff from the college but due to their affiliation with Gloucester their team is dotted with academy players from the Premiership side which has helped their development.

Three Hartpury players have gone on to play for Warriors.

Ed Shervington, who left Worcester for Wasps before retiring last year, Harry Casson, now at Ealing Trailfinder, and Ryan Mills who still plays for the Sixways side.

The side play their first league game of the season against Bristol in September while Warriors kick off their campaign at Newcastle on Friday, September 1.