PRO12 RUGBY: Ulster seek to make early statement in Guinness PRO12 campaign

Ulster will bid to bring the Guinness PRO12 Trophy to Kingspan Stadium this season
Ulster will bid to bring the Guinness PRO12 Trophy to Kingspan Stadium this season

Ulster will open their Guinness PRO12 season in Kingspan Stadium when Newport Gwent Dragons will be the visitors on September 2.

A Friday night fixture at the Belfast venue will be the ideal opportunity for Les Kiss’s side to set down a marker for the new term after falling short in the semi-finals in May.

With a trip to Italy to face Benetton Treviso eight days later, it gives Ulster a massive opportunity to put themselves in a good position early in the new campaign.

The first of the Irish derby fixtures come either side of the opening two rounds in the European Champions Cup.

Ulster will go to PRO12 champions Connacht on Friday, October 7 and then entertain Munster on Friday October 28.

In the traditional big festive games, Ulster will entertain Connacht on Friday, December 23 with a tasty New Year’s Eve game in Dublin against Leinster.

Meanwhile, new for the forthcoming season, PRO12 Championship organisers have designated six ‘Big Weekends’ across the season that will comprise of special intra-union derby matches as well as capitalising on the rivalry between the Italian and Scottish clubs.

The ‘Big Weekends’ will include signature match-ups such as the 1872 Cup Scottish derby, the annual Leinster versus Munster game at the Aviva Stadium, the Italian derby and the double header Judgement Day spectacular between the Welsh Regions.

It will all kick off on Friday, September 2 as the opening games of the first weekend will be played at the new regular ‘appointment-to-view’ time of 19:35.

To ensure fans know where to catch the action, the majority of Friday evening matches will take place at this time during the season.

“We are delighted to announce the fixture list, as well as the designated broadcasters for the first 13 rounds, ahead of what promises to be a truly special Guinness PRO12 season,” said Martin Anayi, managing director of PRO12 Rugby.

“After listening to feedback from both the clubs and fans, we have been able to take initial steps to restructure our season that puts the emphasis on creating the best experience possible for supporters.

“Our aim is to develop a schedule that puts the fan experience first and gives our clubs the best chance of bumper crowds coming to watch our star players. in the biggest games of the season. Now our fans will get to experience big weekend atmospheres with mouth-watering fixtures spread across the whole season.

“For example, we have ensured that all teams have a home match in either Round 1 or 2, and in one of the last two rounds. Also, no club has three consecutive home or away matches – lending the competition a far better balance.”

ULSTER FIXTURES

Round 1: Ulster v Dragons, Fri 2nd Sep, 19:35, Kingspan Stadium, BBC NI

Round 2: Treviso v Ulster, Sat 10th Sep, 20:05, Stadio Monigo, BBC NI

Round 3: Ulster v Scarlets, Fri 16th Sep, 19:05, Kingspan Stadium, BBC NI

Round 4: Glasgow v Ulster, Fri 23rd Sep, 19:35, Scotstoun, BBC NI

Round 5: Ulster v Ospreys, Sat 1st October, 18:30, Kingspan Stadium, Sky Sports

Round 6: Connacht v Ulster, Fri 7th Oct, 19:35, Sportsground, BBC NI

Round 7: Ulster v Munster, Fri 28th Oct, 19:35, Kingspan Stadium, BBC NI

Round 8: Edinburgh v Ulster, Fri 4th Nov, 19:35, BT Murrayfield, BBC NI

Round 9: Ulster v Zebre, Fri 25th Nov, 19:35, Kingspan Stadium, BBC NI

Round 10 Cardiff v Ulster, Sat 3rd Dec, 17:15, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, Sky Sports

Round 11: Ulster v Connacht, Fri 23rd Dec, 19:35, Kingspan Stadium, BBC NI / Sky Sports

Round 12: Leinster v Ulster, Sat 31st Dec, 15:00, RDS Arena, Sky Sports

Round 13: Scarlets v Ulster, Fri 6th Jan, 19:35, Parc y Scarlets, BBC NI

Round 14: Ulster v Edinburgh, 10-12 Feb, Kingspan Stadium

Round 15: Ulster v Glasgow, 17-19 Feb, Kingspan Stadium

Round 16: Zebre v Ulster, 24-26 Feb, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi

Round 17: Ulster v Treviso, 3-5 Mar, Kingspan Stadium

Round 18: Dragons v Ulster, 24-26 Mar, Rodney Parade

Round 19: Ulster v Cardiff, 7-9 Apr, Kingspan Stadium

Round 20: Munster v Ulster, Sat 15th Apr, 15:00, Thomond Park, Sky Sports

Round 21: Ospreys v Ulster, 28-30 Apr, Liberty Stadium

Round 22: Ulster v Leinster, Sat 6th May, 15:00, Kingspan Stadium

Play-offs: 19-21 May, Sky Sports

Final: 26-28 May, Sky Sports