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United Rugby Championship fixtures revealed: Derbies front-loaded as Connacht face nightmare start

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Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster is tackled by Conor Oliver and Jack Carty of Connacht during the United Rugby Championship

Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster is tackled by Conor Oliver and Jack Carty of Connacht during the United Rugby Championship

Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster is tackled by Conor Oliver and Jack Carty of Connacht during the United Rugby Championship

ALL of the Irish derbies in this year's United Rugby Championship will be done and dusted by New Year's Day, with Connacht in for a fiendishly difficult start to the new campaign.

Head coach Andy Friend won't be thanking the fixture computer after his side were tasked with facing the five best teams in the competition in the opening weeks.

Connacht face Ulster away on the opening weekend, before travelling to South Africa to take on holders The Stormers, in what will be their first game since securing the title, and beaten finalists The Bulls.

When they return, they welcome Munster and Leinster to the Sportsground.

It's a tough schedule, but all four of the provinces will take each other on in the first half of the season with derbies in 10 of the first 11 rounds of fixtures.

Leinster host Munster in Round six on the weekend of October 21 and would be expected to play that game at the Aviva Stadium, with the return fixture getting it's traditional Christmas slot.

The campaign kicks off on September 16, with Ulster and Connacht meeting at the Kingspan Stadium, while Leinster begin in Parma against Zebre and Graham Rowntree's Munster era begins in Cardiff.

All four provinces will spend a fortnight in South Africa, with Ulster following Connacht to the Rainbow Nation in October when they'll take on The Lions and The Sharks.

Munster and Leinster's trips to the Southern Hemisphere come between the Six Nations and the European knockouts in the final two rounds of the regular season, with Leo Cullen's side facing The Lions and The Bulls, with Rowntree's men taking on The Stormers and The Sharks.

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Vodacom United Rugby Championship schedule 2022/23

R1 – Friday, September 16 / Saturday, September 17 / Sunday, September 18

Edinburgh Rugby v Dragons RFC

Ulster v Connacht

Benetton v Glasgow Warriors

Zebre Parma v Leinster

Scarlets v Ospreys

Cardiff Rugby v Munster

Cell C Sharks v DHL Stormers **Feb 3/4

Emirates Lions v Vodacom Bulls **Feb 3/4

R2 – Friday, September 23 / Saturday, September 24 / Sunday, September 25

Zebre Parma v Cell C Sharks

Glasgow Warriors v Cardiff Rugby

Leinster v Benetton

DHL Stormers v Connacht

Vodacom Bulls v Edinburgh Rugby

Scarlets v Ulster

Ospreys v Emirates Lions

Dragons RFC v Munster

R3 – Friday, September 30 / Saturday, October 1 / Sunday, October 2

Cardiff Rugby v Emirates Lions

Ulster v Leinster

Benetton v Scarlets

DHL Stormers v Edinburgh Rugby

Vodacom Bulls v Connacht

Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors

Munster v Zebre Parma

Dragons RFC v Cell C Sharks

R4 – Friday, October 7 / Saturday, October 8 / Sunday, October 9

Edinburgh Rugby v Emirates Lions

Zebre Parma v DHL Stormers

Glasgow Warriors v Vodacom Bulls

Connacht v Munster

Benetton v Dragons RFC

Scarlets v Cardiff Rugby

Leinster v Cell C Sharks

Ulster v Ospreys

R5 – Friday, October 14 / Saturday, October 15 / Sunday, October 16

Edinburgh Rugby v Benetton

Ospreys v DHL Stormers

Emirates Lions v Ulster

Cell C Sharks v Glasgow Warriors

Munster v Vodacom Bulls

Scarlets v Zebre Parma

Cardiff Rugby v Dragons RFC

Connacht v Leinster

R6 – Friday, October 21 / Saturday, October 22 / Sunday, October 23

Connacht v Scarlets

Benetton v Vodacom Bulls

Zebre Parma v Edinburgh Rugby

Emirates Lions v Glasgow Warriors

Cell C Sharks v Ulster

Dragons RFC v Ospreys

Cardiff Rugby v DHL Stormers

Leinster v Munster

R7 – Friday, October 28 / Saturday, October 29 / Sunday, October 30

Scarlets v Leinster

Glasgow Warriors v Benetton

Cardiff Rugby v Edinburgh Rugby

Dragons RFC v Zebre Parma

Munster v Ulster

Ospreys v Connacht

Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks **Feb 10/11

Emirates Lions v DHL Stormers **Feb 10/11

R8 – Friday, November 25 / Saturday, November 26 / Sunday, November 27

Benetton v Edinburgh Rugby

Emirates Lions v Dragons RFC

Vodacom Bulls v Ospreys

Cell C Sharks v Cardiff Rugby

Munster v Connacht

DHL Stormers v Scarlets

Leinster v Glasgow Warriors

Ulster v Zebre Parma

R9 – Friday, December 2 / Saturday, December 3 / Sunday, December 4

Edinburgh Rugby v Munster

Zebre Parma v Glasgow Warriors

Cell C Sharks v Ospreys

DHL Stormers v Dragons RFC

Emirates Lions v Scarlets

Vodacom Bulls v Cardiff Rugby

Connacht v Benetton

Leinster v Ulster

R10 – Friday, December 23 / Saturday, December 24 / Monday, December 26

Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh Rugby

Cell C Sharks v Emirates Lions

DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls

Benetton v Zebre Parma

Dragons RFC v Cardiff Rugby

Connacht v Ulster

Munster v Leinster

Ospreys v Scarlets

R11 – Friday, December 30 / Saturday, December 31 / Sunday, January 1

Edinburgh Rugby v Glasgow Warriors

Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls

DHL Stormers v Emirates Lions

Zebre Parma v Benetton

Scarlets v Dragons RFC

Leinster v Connacht

Ulster v Munster

Cardiff Rugby v Ospreys

R12 – Friday, January 6 / Saturday, January 7 / Sunday, January 8

Dragons RFC v Vodacom Bulls

Glasgow Warriors v DHL Stormers

Benetton v Ulster

Connacht v Cell C Sharks

Cardiff Rugby v Scarlets

Munster v Emirates Lions

Ospreys v Leinster

Edinburgh Rugby v Zebre Parma

R13 – Friday, January 27 / Saturday, January 28 / Sunday, January 29

Ulster v DHL Stormers

Zebre Parma v Ospreys

Benetton v Munster

Dragons RFC v Glasgow Warriors

Connacht v Emirates Lions

Scarlets v Vodacom Bulls

Edinburgh Rugby v Cell C Sharks

Leinster v Cardiff Rugby

R14 – Friday, February 17 / Saturday, February 18 / Sunday, February 19

Glasgow Warriors v Ulster

Munster v Ospreys

Zebre Parma v Connacht

Scarlets v Edinburgh Rugby

Leinster v Dragons RFC

Cardiff Rugby v Benetton

Vodacom Bulls v DHL Stormers

Emirates Lions v Cell C Sharks

R15 – Friday, March 3 / Saturday, March 4 / Sunday, March 5

Munster v Scarlets

Glasgow Warriors v Zebre Parma

Cardiff Rugby v Ulster

Dragons RFC v Connacht

Edinburgh Rugby v Leinster

Ospreys v Benetton

Vodacom Bulls v Emirates Lions

DHL Stormers v Cell C Sharks

R16 – Friday, March 24 / Saturday, March 25 / Sunday, March 26

Benetton v Emirates Lions

Ulster v Vodacom Bulls

Scarlets v Cell C Sharks

Zebre Parma v Cardiff Rugby

Leinster v DHL Stormers

Ospreys v Dragons RFC

Connacht v Edinburgh Rugby

Munster v Glasgow Warriors

R17 – Friday, April 14 / Saturday, April 15 / Sunday, April 16

Cell C Sharks v Benetton

Connacht v Cardiff Rugby

Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets

Vodacom Bulls v Zebre Parma

Emirates Lions v Leinster

Edinburgh Rugby v Ospreys

DHL Stormers v Munster

Ulster v Dragons RFC

R18 – Friday, April 21 / Saturday, April 22 / Sunday, April 23

DHL Stormers v Benetton

Glasgow Warriors v Connacht

Emirates Lions v Zebre Parma

Vodacom Bulls v Leinster

Ospreys v Cardiff Rugby

Dragons RFC v Scarlets

Cell C Sharks v Munster

Ulster v Edinburgh Rugby


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