10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The first round of the AIB Cup takes place this weekend with 16 teams from all four provinces in the mix for a place in February's quarter-finals.
The tie of the round must be the Shannon v Cork Constitution game in Thomond Park on Sunday and it promises to be a titanic battle with festive bragging rights on the line. But there are also several other great games to consider.
After winning through from the preliminary round last month, courtesy of a 28-16 victory over Ballymena, Buccaneers find themselves up against Leinster opposition in the shape of AIB League Divsion Two side De La Salle Palmerston.
Another cross-province game sees Leinster pitted against Ulster at Castle Avenue on Saturday - Clontarf taking on Dungannon. The North Dublin club will be out to avenge their recent 6-3 league defeat at the hands of Jeremy Davidson's side.
The other all-Munster clash sees Cork side Dolphin take on Garryowen in Musgrave Park, where the top flight Limerick outfit should be slight favourites. They are unbeaten in Division One currently.
Elsewhere in the draw, there is an all-Division Two fixure, with top side Terenure College taking on bottom side Malone at Lakelands.
The final game on Saturday sees a touch of David and Goliath, as last year's AIB League Division One finalists Belfast Harlequins play Dublin club Suttonians from Division Three.
Not to be forgotten amongst the other big games this weekend, Munster Junior side Cashel have one of their biggest games in their history when they take on Galwegians in Crowley Park. The Tipperary side won their right to particpate in the AIB Cup following their sensational performances in the Munster Junior Cup and this season's ODM Munster Senior Cup.
There is one fixture change to the First Round, with the Greystones v St. Mary's College game being postponed and rescheduled for Thursday 29th.
AIB Cup First Round (all kick-offs 2.00pm unless otherwise stated):
Saturday, December 17:
Clontarf v Dungannon, Castle Avenue (2.30pm)
De La Salle Palmerston v Buccaneers, Kilternan
Dolphin v Garryowen, Musgrave Park
Terenure College v Malone, Lakelands Park
Belfast Harlequins v Suttonians, Deramore Park (2.30pm)
Sunday, December 18:
Shannon v Cork Constitution, Thomond Park
Galwegians v Cashel, Crowley Park
Thursday, December 29:
Greystones v St. Mary's College, Dr. Hickey Park