It may have been an August pre-season encounter but one could be forgiven for thinking it was late November with unseasonable wintry conditions greeting the 2,300-plus support base in Waterford tonight for the first round of the Kearys Renault Series.
Saracens, last season's winners of an historic Champions Cup and Aviva Premiership double, will get their 2016/17 European campaign underway with a truly heavyweight clash with three-time champions Toulon at Stade Félix Mayol on Saturday, October 15.
Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has revealed his first Munster matchday squad for the province's pre-season clash with Zebre on Friday. Round 1 of the 2016 Kearys Renault Series sees Munster host the Italians at the Waterford RSC (kick-off 7pm).
The Irish Rugby Football Union provided an unbudgeted additional 1 million euro in the 2015/16 season to the provinces (250,000 euro each) to assist with the difficulties experienced by all in the player contracting market.
With pre-season now underway, seven new recruits have so far been added to the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy for the 2016/17 season. Ireland Under-20 players Shane Daly, Vincent O'Brien and Sean O'Connor are included in the new intake.
CJ Stander became the first player to claim the Munster Rugby Player of the Year award for the second year in succession at today's annual Munster Rugby Awards, in association with the Irish Independent.