After experiencing mixed results in European competition, the teams’ focus once again returns to the GUINNESS PRO12 with a run of four rounds over the festive and New Year period.
Leinster, the best-placed PRO12 team in Europe sitting second to Harlequins in Pool 2, face provincial rivals Connacht on Friday night. Both teams lie just outside the PRO12 play-off zone in fifth and sixth place with only one point separating them in table, so a win for either side is essential for their end of season aspirations.
It’s just as close at the top of the PRO12 table, with just one point separating the top four teams, each of them facing fellow play-off hopefuls in this round with Glasgow Warriors (third) playing Munster (first) followed by the Ospreys (second) versus Ulster (fourth) in a televised double header on Saturday.
Both home teams have built up impressive home records, and a loss by any side could see them drop out of the play-off positions.
PRO12 teams are faring a little better in the European Challenge Cup, with the Newport Gwent Dragons and Edinburgh leading two of the pools and Cardiff Blues sharing the lead in a third.
Edinburgh and the Blues are both in action on Friday night hosting Benetton Treviso and the Scarlets respectively, while the Dragons wrap up the round with the visit of Zebre on Sunday.
The next four weekends could go a long way to establishing the pattern for the rest of the season, with a maximum 20 points on offer for a winning run, and with bumper crowds expected over the festive period, there is plenty of great rugby on offer to detract from the turkey and tinsel.
GUINNESS PRO12 – ROUND 10 FIXTURES:
Friday, December 19 –
LEINSTER (5th) v CONNACHT (6th), the RDS, 7.35pm (live TG4)
Cardiff Blues (9th) v Scarlets (7th), BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, 7.35pm (live BBC 2 Wales)
Edinburgh (8th) v Benetton Treviso (12th), BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live BBC ALBA/Nuvolari TV)
Saturday, December 20 –
Glasgow Warriors (3rd) v MUNSTER (1st), Scotstoun Stadium, 2.40pm (live Sky Sports 1 HD)
Ospreys (2nd) v ULSTER (4th), Liberty Stadium, 5.15pm (live Sky Sports 2 HD)
Sunday, December 21 –
Newport Gwent Dragons (11th) v Zebre (10th), Rodney Parade, 4pm (live S4C/Nuvolari TV)