ERC have announced the fixtures, dates, kick-off times and live television coverage for the opening four rounds of the 2013/14 Heineken Cup, with 45 of the 48 games being broadcast live.
Current Aviva Premiership champions, Leicester Tigers, will begin their campaign with what promises to be a fiercely-contested Pool 5 tie at Ulster’s Ravenhill cauldron on Friday, October 11.
Meanwhile, last season’s Amlin Challenge Cup champions Leinster will face the Ospreys in round 1 on Saturday, October 12 at the Liberty Stadium.
In addition, Leinster have moved their round 4 game in Pool 1 against Northampton Saints to the Aviva Stadium with the repeat of the dramatic 2011 final set to go ahead on Saturday, December 14 with a 6pm kick-off.
Connacht open their campaign against Saracens with a Friday night clash at the Sportsground, followed by a second round trip to Zebre before the back-to-back games against Toulouse in December.
Munster will kick off in Murrayfield against familiar rivals Edinburgh followed by a second round encounter with Gloucester, whom they face in a pre-season friendly next month.
Commenting on the newly released list of European fixtures, Munster head coach Rob Penney said: “When the pool draw was done we were very positive about our pool, and now that the fixtures are out it’s great that we have a few Saturday fixtures, especially an early evening Saturday game at Thomond Park (against Gloucester) for the supporters.
“Playing Edinburgh so much does present its own challenges and it’s a case of the devil you know versus the devil you don’t.
“Edinburgh won’t be the same side as they were last year and if they replicate what they did the year before they’ll be very dangerous.
“You can’t leave any stone unturned in terms of preparation and we can’t assume anything based on last year’s results, and that’s with everybody.”
Munster’s schedule includes two crunch back-to-back games against French club Perpignan in December, with Penney admitting: “Perpignan are a side that are really trying to force their way in to the top echelon of the Top 14. They are going to take this competition, as they always do, really seriously.
“They will look to be another French club to make it to that top level of Heineken Cup which is always challenging.
“I know it is a six-day turnaround (in December) but they have to travel home after the first leg, so it all equates out to be fair, and we’ll have the same build-up to the game. The group that caters for that the best will end up being in the best shape for that second back-to-back game.”