Ulster will launch the new Champions Cup campaign at Kingspan Stadium on Friday, October 13 when they host Wasps, while the following day will see Leinster entertain Montpellier at the RDS. Meanwhile, Munster will be away to Castres Olympique as round 1 comes to a close on Sunday, October 15.
Champions Cup holders Saracens will be looking to become only the second club in history to secure a European three in-a-row when they kick off their 2017/18 campaign against long-time rivals, Northampton Saints, at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday, October 15.
The all-Aviva Premiership clash – live on BT Sport – is only one of a series of mouthwatering confrontations in the fixtures schedule for rounds 1 to 4 of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup which have been announced today by tournament organisers EPCR.
The Scarlets, last season’s GUINNESS PRO12 winners, will travel with confidence to Stade Félix Mayol to take on the might of Toulon live on Sky Sports in an October 15 clash which will feature Leigh Halfpenny’s return to his old stamping ground.
Exeter Chiefs, the reigning Premiership champions, host Glasgow Warriors at Sandy Park on Saturday, October 14 in Pool 3, while last season’s Champions Cup runners-up and Top 14 winners Clermont Auvergne continue their search for ultimate European glory against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium the following day.
Ulster will be determined to improve on their 2016/17 performances in Europe when they go head-to-head with Wasps at Kingspan Stadium in the opening Champions Cup tie of the season on Friday, October 13, and Harlequins are up against tournament first-timers La Rochelle at the Twickenham Stoop less than 24 hours later.
Highlights of the crucial back-to-back clashes include a repeat of last season’s final between Saracens and Clermont, while Leinster against Exeter is certain to pack them into the Aviva Stadium in round 4 on Saturday, December 16.
In addition, the December meetings of European warhorses, Leicester Tigers and Munster, as well as the match-ups between two more former tournament winners, Bath and Toulon, are guaranteed to heat up the pre-Christmas chill.
All 40 matches in rounds 1 to 4 of the Champions Cup will be broadcast live in the UK and Ireland on either BT Sport or Sky Sports, and all games will be covered in France either live or delayed by beIN Sports and France Télévisions.
Meanwhile, holders Stade Francais will being their Challenge Cup defence with an away trip to tournament newcomers Krasny Yar of Russia on Saturday, October 14, and Switzerland will stage a round 1 match when Oyonnax meet Kieran Keane’s Connacht at the Stade de Genève on the same day.
The European season kicks off with the clash of last season’s beaten Challenge Cup finalists Gloucester and Pau at Stade du Hameau on Thursday, October 12 – live on Sky Sports.
The dates, kick-off times and TV coverage for the round 5 and 6 games in both tournaments will be announced in December following the completion of the round 4 ties.
EPCR WEEKENDS – 2017/18 SEASON:
ROUND 1: October 12/13/14/15
ROUND 2: October 19/20/21/22
ROUND 3: December 7/8/9/10
ROUND 4: December 14/15/16/17
ROUND 5: January 11/12/13/14
ROUND 6: January 18/19/20/21
QUARTER-FINALS: March 29/30/31-April 1
SEMI-FINALS: April 20/21/22
CHALLENGE CUP FINAL: Friday 11 May, San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao
CHAMPIONS CUP FINAL: Saturday 12 May, San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao