It is here at last, the new RaboDirect PRO12 season kicks off on Friday night with three tough fixtures. We will have all the usual previews, reports and news updates on IrishRugby.ie.
The honour of hosting the first game in the renamed competition will be shared between the Liberty Stadium and Ravenhill where both games kick-off at 7.05pm.
Last season’s beaten finalists, Leinster, are the visitors to Swansea where they will be hoping to reverse the outcome of the 2009/10 final, when the Ospreys took the title.
Over in Belfast, Ulster, who reached the play-offs last season, welcome Scottish opposition in the form of Glasgow Warriors with both teams no doubt looking for a good start to their 2011/12 campaign.
The final fixture on Friday evening sees the second Scottish team in action when Michael Bradley’s Edinburgh side host the first Cardiff Blues team without Dai Young at the helm.
Reigning champions, Munster, are in action Saturday evening with the Newport Gwent Dragons the visitors to Musgrave Park, a venue where the hosts have not lost a league game since May 2008.
There is also action in Italy on Saturday, where Connacht, who were top of the table after the first round last season, take on Benetton Treviso.
The opening round wraps up in Wales on Sunday when the Scarlets host Aironi. Having lost out to Italian opposition, Benetton Treviso, in the opening round in last season’s competition, the men from Llanelli will be anxious to avoid a repeat result. Aironi are still looking for that elusive first away win.
RABODIRECT PRO12 – ROUND 1 FIXTURES:
Friday, September 2 –
Ospreys v LEINSTER, Liberty Stadium, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Wales/highlights RTÉ Two)
ULSTER v Glasgow Warriors, Ravenhill, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/BBC ALBA)
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues, Murrayfield, 7.30pm
Saturday, September 3 –
Benetton Treviso v CONNACHT, Stadio di Monigo, 3pm local time/2pm Irish time
MUNSTER v Newport Gwent Dragons, Musgrave Park, 7.45pm (live TG4/S4C)
Sunday, September 4 –
Scarlets v Aironi Rugby, Parc y Scarlets, 4pm (live S4C)