‘Tis the season of goodwill to all men, unless they happen to be your local rivals in the Magners League. Weather permitting, there will be a feast of local derbies over the festive period.
Round 11 kicks off in Italy with the first ever all-Italian derby in Magners League history when Benetton Treviso host Aironi at Stadio di Monigo on Christmas Eve.
Treviso have made the better start to their Magners League campaign, but Aironi’s recent Heineken Cup victory over last season’s beaten finalists, Biarritz Olympique, may have given an added impetus to their season.
The round resumes after Christmas when Connacht will be hoping for a capacity St. Stephen’s Day crowd for the visit of table topping Munster.
On the same day in Wales, the big draw is the fourth-placed Ospreys playing the Scarlets, who sit in second place, at the Liberty Stadium.
The Ospreys have just edged their way back into the play-off zone, having been out of the top-four since the second round but should other results go their way, a victory here could see them swap places with their opponents.
Munster have held top spot since round 2, and dependent upon other results, even a defeat at the Sportsground could still see them maintain that lead.
The remaining fixtures take place on Monday, with Welsh, Scottish and Irish derbies. The Newport Gwent Dragons kick-off proceedings by welcoming the Cardiff Blues to Rodney Parade.
Leinster travel north of the border to face Ulster at Ravenhill, whilst the first leg of the 1872 Challenge to find the top team in Scotland takes place at Firhill between Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh.
Round 11 is the midway point of the league phase of the season, so if a team wants one of the coveted top-four places, and a chance to play in the Magners League semi-finals, their challenge must start now.
MAGNERS LEAGUE – ROUND 11 FIXTURES:
Friday, December 24 –
Benetton Treviso v Aironi Rugby, Stadio di Monigo, 2.30pm (live Dahlia TV)
Sunday, December 26 –
Ospreys v Scarlets, Liberty Stadium, 4.10pm (live S4C)
CONNACHT v MUNSTER, the Sportsground, 5pm (live TG4)
Monday, December 27 –
Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues, Rodney Parade, 3.20pm (live BBC Wales)
ULSTER v LEINSTER, Ravenhill, 4pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/RTE Two)
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh, Firhill Stadium, 5.35pm (live BBC ALBA)