Ulster are the first province to dip their toe in the season’s waters with an away friendly v Rotherham tomorrow (13th). Connacht and Munster see their first action next week, Leinster the week after.
Ulster take on Rotherham in Sheffield tomorrow evening (Fri. 13th) in the first provincial game of the season. Mark McCall has announced his first squad and it includes a few new names.
Forwards: Rod Moore, Paul Shields, Ronan McCormack, Bryan Young, Simon Shawe, Paul Shields, Nigel Brady, Matt Mustchin, Gary Longwell, Tim Barker, Rowan Frost, Neil Best, Campbell Feather, Neil McMillan, Andy Ward, Michael McComish.
Backs: Kieran Campbell, Neil Doak, Paddy Wallace, Adam Larkin, Shane Stewart, Seamus Mallon, James Topping, Andrew Maxwell, Bryn Cunningham, Andrew Trimble.
Campbell Feather is a New Zealander arrived on a two year contract via The Borders; Andrew Trimble is a 19 year old on a development contract and Michael McComish is on a training contract with the team for the summer.
Ulster’s first home match is the following Friday, 20th August, when they take on NEC Harlequins. Tickets can be bought online at www.ulsterrugby.com or from Ravenhill.
Meanwhile, Munster and Connacht commence with friendlies against London Irish and Newcastle respectively on Tuesday 17th August.
Declan Kidney’s first game in charge for Leinster against Worcester will be played in Clontarf FC on Friday, August 20 (KO: 7.30pm).
Connacht take on London Irish on Friday 20th (K.O. 18.30) at the Sportsground.
On Monday 21st August Munster play Newcastle in Thomond Park (time to be announced).
It is expected that the Connacht v Newcastle match will feature Jonny Wilkinson’s first match since being injured last December. It will also be Eric Elwood’s 150th appearance for Connacht. Tickets can be bought online at www.connachtrugby.ie.
Finally Leinster’s season kicks off with a home friendly against newly-promoted Zurich Premiership team Worcester on Friday 20th. The match is at Castle Avenue, Clontarf and kick-off is at 19.30. Leinster then have a mini-tour of England, taking in fixtures against Coventry and Worcester again on the 26th and 28th August respectively.