Sunday 25 September 2016

Date set for vital Pro12 Ulster clash

Daragh Small

Published 03/04/2015 | 02:30

Munster head coach Anthony Foley
Munster head coach Anthony Foley

THE vital Pro 12 clash between Ulster and Munster at Kingspan Stadium has been fixed for Saturday May 9 (2.40) and will be shown live on Sky Sports.

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If wins continue to flow for both sides, this promises to be a key battle to determine the destination of the league title for 2014-15.

With Neil Doak's men currently second in the table and Munster in third, but tied on points, it looks set to be a pivotal game in the race for second place in the final standings and the home semi-final that would follow.

Since the introduction of semi-finals for the 2009-10 competition, no team has failed to make it to the league final after having had home advantage for the semis.

Munster, however, appear to have a more favourable run to the tape, and it looks all the pressure will be on the northerners to get a result in what will be the second last game for both of these sides in the season proper.

Both sides are off this weekend as European action takes over - it's the first time in 17 seasons that Munster are not active at the quarter-final stage of either European competition.

Munster's other remaining fixtures are away to Edinburgh and at home to Treviso, before the final day fixture sees them take on the Dragons at Irish Independent Park.

Ulster have a daunting run in to finish the season.

They travel to play Connacht at the Sportsground in the next round, host Leinster after that before their game against Munster and a final day tie away to league leaders Glasgow Warriors.

Champions Cup dates confirmed

With European rugby taking centre stage this weekend the EPCR has announced its key dates for the 2015/16 season.

Next season's Champions Cup gets going in mid-November, just two weeks after the World Cup final. The tournament will use its usual dates during December and January, and the quarter-finals and semi-finals will take place in April 2016. The final is set for the weekend of May 13/14.

Nineteen clubs qualify from the Guinness Pro12, Aviva Premiership and French Top 14.

This season there will be play-offs to see which club gets the 20th and final spot. These will involve one team from each of the three leagues. Next season, though, there will be no play-offs with the winner of the Challenge Cup going directly in the following season's Champions Cup.

The following year a second team from the Pro12 will be added to the play-offs so four teams will be vying to qualify for the Champions Cup.

This year's play-offs will see the seventh-ranked teams in the Premiership and Top 14 competing with the highest ranked Pro12 club that has not qualified for the Champions Cup.

If a club from the Premiership wins the Challenge Cup this year they automatically take the English play-off spot.

From next season onwards this will also apply to the Top 14 and Pro12 sides (the second Pro12 spot will go to the winner).

This year's finals will take place in London next month. The Challenge Cup decider will be played at The Stoop on Friday, May 1. Twickenham will host the Champions Cup final the following day. It will be the fifth time the venue has hosted European's blue riband event.

Irish Independent

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