Leinster face October trip to Thomond
MUNSTER will host the October derby against Leinster for the first time since it became a regular fixture on the Pro12 calendar in 2008.
The clash has been a yearly meeting ahead of the opening Heineken Cup fixtures and has always taken place in Dublin, with the last two seasons seeing large crowds attending Lansdowne Road for the game.
This year, the Reds will have home advantage as champions Leinster travel to Thomond Park on the weekend of October 4-6. Leinster will host the return on the weekend of March 28-30.
Matt O'Connor's first game as Leinster coach will be away to the Scarlets – a fixture the Irish province lost 45-20 last season – on the weekend of September 6-8.
Munster open their campaign at home to Edinburgh, Connacht host Zebre and Ulster are away to the Newport Gwent Dragons.
The Christmas fixtures will see Leinster host Ulster and Connacht visit Munster on the weekend of December 27-29, before Leinster visit Galway a week later and Munster travel to Belfast.
In a change from past seasons, when players were released to their provinces en bloc depending on what tour they had been on, the IRFU player management is set to be more tailored to the needs of individual players.
That will come as a relief to clubs, who saw most of their Irish-qualified players involved well into June and July with the Lions, Ireland's tour to North America, Emerging Ireland's tournament in Georgia and the U-20s Junior World Cup in France.