Monday 22 January 2018

Leinster and Munster to do battle ahead of Euro kick-off

John Fallon

Leinster and Munster will clash at the RDS in the newly named RaboDirect Pro12 the week before they open their Heineken Cup campaigns in November.

The clash of the Heineken Cup and Celtic League champions is likely to see the return of the Irish players to their provinces after the World Cup in New Zealand.

And Connacht, who will play in the Heineken Cup for the first time, face a daunting trip to Ravenhill against Ulster the week before they make their bow in the competition.

A draft of the fixtures has been sent to the 12 clubs and while they are subject to change, Munster and Leinster are set to again face each other at Thomond Park the week before the Heineken Cup quarter-finals next April.

As usual there will be successive Irish derby games over the Christmas period. Munster will host Connacht and Leinster will entertain Ulster, probably on Friday December 23, while Leinster travel to the Sportsground and Munster head to Ravenhill for the New Year's weekend fixtures.

Champions Munster will open the defence of their title when they host Newport-Gwent Dragons on the first weekend in September. Leinster will travel to Ospreys, Connacht head to Italy to take on Benetton Treviso and Ulster face Glasgow Warriors at home.

Michael Bradley will meet his former Connacht charges when Eric Elwood's men will go to Murrayfield to take on Edinburgh in the third series of games.

Six rounds of the league are scheduled for successive weekends, starting on Friday September 2, and there will be a two-week break for the World Cup before it resumes again on October 28.

Irish Independent

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