CONNACHT AND ULSTER have the honour of kicking off this year’s Heineken Cup competition with respective home games against Saracens and Leicester Tigers on Friday, 11 October.
Pat Lam’s Connacht will welcome Sarries, last year’s semi-finalists, to The Sportsground while Mark Anscombe’s Ulster will be tested by a Leicester Tigers side that will feature Geordan Murphy on the coaching staff and Irish winger Niall Morris.
Munster have been drawn to play Edinburgh at Murrayfield at 1:35pm on the following day. Rob Penney’s men beat the 2012 Heineken Cup semi-finalists twice in last season’s competition. Leinster are also in action on the Saturday. The current Amlin Cup champions are away to Ospreys at Liberty Stadium from 6pm.
Champions Toulon have a home tie against Glasgow Warriors on the Sunday with the opening weekend winding down with an enticing meeting of Jonny Sexton’s new club, Racing Metro, against Clermont Auvergne, last year’s beaten finalists.
The ERC have also released the fixtures for rounds two, three and four of the pool stages. On 19 October, all four Irish provinces are in action. Connacht are away to Zebre, Leinster face Castres at home, Ulster are away to Montpellier and Munster entertain Gloucester at Thomond Park.
Sean O’Brien fends off Ashley Beck of Ospreys last season. (©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)
The competition takes a break until December with the pick of the Irish ties coming on the 7th when Matt O’Connor’s Leinster travel to Franklin’s Gardens to do battle with old foes Northampton. Ulster are at home to Treviso that evening. On the following day, Munster are home to Perpignan and Connacht are away to Toulouse.
The round four fixtures are a reversal of the previous week’s action with Leinster and Connacht tasked with the hosting duties.
The dates and times for the final two rounds will be confirmed by the ERC at a later date.