Reigning champions Munster will launch their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign at Musgrave Park over the opening weekend of the newly-named competition.
Click here to view the full fixture list for the 2011/12 RaboDirect PRO12 season.
Round 1 sees Munster, who have not lost a RaboDirect PRO12 game in Cork since May 2008 (21-18 v Glasgow Warriors), 11 games ago, tackle Welsh rivals the Newport Gwent Dragons on a weekend that kicks off on Friday, September 2.
It is all change for the 2011/12 season with the tournament organisers changing their identity to PRO12, to reflect the growth and structure of the competition, the inclusion of two Italian franchises last season and the introduction of a play-off and grand final system.
RaboDirect, the online banking arm of Rabobank, has been announced the new title sponsor for the tournament.
No strangers to sponsorship, Rabobank are now synomomous with cycling and RaboDirect in Australia have just finished their inaugural season as sponsors of the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels.
RaboDirect has almost 80,000 customers in Ireland alone and operates in Belgium, Australia and New Zealand.
They pride themselves on being the bank that does things differently, so we are looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the tournament and fans.
Mighty Munster were undefeated in 13 home matches last season as they marched to their third title, beating the 2010 champions, the Ospreys, in the semi-finals and then outgunning Leinster 19-9 in the grand final a week after Joe Schmidt’s men had been crowned champions of Europe.
Leinster find themselves travelling to the Liberty Stadium to face the Ospreys in their opening match in what will be a repeat of the 2010 grand final, when the Welsh region triumphed at the RDS.
The first round will also see Edinburgh and the Cardiff Blues get an early glimpse of each other as they prepare to meet again in Pool 2 of next season’s Heineken Cup.
The other opening weekend fixtures will see Benetton Treviso hosting Connacht at Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Glasgow Warriors travelling to Ravenhill to meet Ulster and the Scarlets entertaining Aironi at Parc y Scarlets.
The RaboDirect PRO12 will continue through September and early October while the Rugby World Cup is being played in New Zealand, but there will be a two-week break after round 6 (the weekend of October 7) while the semi-finals and final of the global tournament are played.
Then it is back to business on the weekend of October 28 for rounds 7 and 8 ahead of the opening pool weekends of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.
Round 8 (November 4) will see the first wave of major derby clashes as Leinster host Munster at the RDS, the Dragons entertain Cardiff Blues at their rebuilt Rodney Parade ground and the Ospreys play the Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium.
The derbies return around Christmas and the New Year with Edinburgh kicking off the 1872 Cup clashes with Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield in round 11 before heading to Glasgow for the return a week later, over the weekend of December 30.
The head-to-head games between the two Italian teams start at Stadio Zaffanella in round 11, with Aironi hosting Benetton Treviso, and the return leg coming the following weekend.
In Ireland, Munster host Connacht in round 11 before heading to Ulster, while Leinster entertain Ulster and then travel to Connacht.
The Welsh regions do battle as well, with the rematch between the Blues and Dragons taking place at Cardiff City Stadium in round 11 and the Scarlets welcoming the Ospreys to Llanelli.
The following weekend the Dragons host the Scarlets and the Ospreys face the Blues.
There will be two rounds of matches played during the 2012 RBS 6 Nations, round 14 (February 10) and round 16 (February 24). The final round, round 22, being played over the weekend of May 4.
The RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs, between the top four finishing teams in the regular season, will take place on the weekend of May 11 and the RaboDirect PRO12 grand final will be on Saturday, May, 26.