The first ever ‘Big Weekend’ will kick off in a showcase of rivalries new and old in the GUINNESS PRO12 as the best players from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales take to the field this weekend.
A number of the biggest club rugby venues in Ireland and Britain will play host to some of the most exciting match-ups in the GUINNESS PRO12 just one week before the teams begin their European campaigns.
Across the first five rounds of action so far, the PRO12 has attracted more TV viewers and higher attendances than at this point last season with more exciting rugby on offer and more tries being scored.
In addition to offering rugby union fans a chance to enjoy their favourite rivalries and see new ones emerge, Martin Anayi, Chief Executive of PRO12 Rugby, explained that it was the ideal preparation for European competition.
“The GUINNESS PRO12 has colourful history which has entertained traditional tribal rivalries and created new ones, too, and what better way to celebrate this than by introducing our six ‘Big Weekends’,” said Anayi.
“These games mean so much to our teams and supporters and we hope that by grouping them together before taking on Europe’s elite it will ensure that the match-winning instincts of our players have been intensely honed in our championship.
“The competition in the PRO12 has never been so intense and the performances of our sides has caught the imagination of our fans who are turning out in greater numbers to our games and watching more of our broadcasts.”
The Big Weekends for the PRO12 will occur in rounds 6, 7, 11, 12 & 20 before the grand regular season finale in round 22, where ‘Super Saturday’ will provide an enthralling fixture list as teams compete for places in the semi-finals and for Champions Cup qualification.
– Total attendance for rounds 1 to 5 is 208,406 which is up 4% on 2015/16
– Like-for-like games comparison has seen an increase of 6.5% (up from 195,892) on 2015/16
– Average audience per weekend during rounds 1 to 4 was 451,750 which is up 22.5% when compared to 2015/16 among audiences in Ireland and Wales
ROUND 6 FIXTURES:
Friday, October 7: CONNACHT v ULSTER, the Sportsground, 7.35pm (live TG4/BBC 2 Northern Ireland); Edinburgh v Benetton Treviso, BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live BBC ALBA); Ospreys v Cardiff Blues, Liberty Stadium, 7.35pm (live BBC 2 Wales)
Saturday, October 8: LEINSTER v MUNSTER, Aviva Stadium, 2.05pm (live Sky Sports 1 HD/TG4); Zebre v Glasgow Warriors, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 5.05pm local time; Scarlets v Newport Gwent Dragons, Parc y Scarlets, 7.35pm (live S4C)
GUINNESS PRO12 FINAL TICKET GIVEAWAYS FOR SUPPORTERS
A number of competitions will run at half-time during the Connacht v Ulster, Leinster v Munster and Zebre v Glasgow Warriors games where fans in attendance will have the chance to win tickets to the PRO12 final at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, May 27.