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New Magners League fixtures announced

Tommy Bowe will help the Ospreys kick-off the defence of their Magners League title with a trip to familiar territory when the Welsh region open the tournament’s 10th anniversary campaign against Ulster at Ravenhill on the weekend of 4 September.

Bowe was one of the Ospreys’ two try scorers in their 17-12 Grand Final victory over Leinster in Dublin in May and also grabbed a vital bonus-point try at his old stamping ground as the Ospreys beat Ulster 38-27 in April to stay on course for the Play-Offs.

The Swansea-based side will host Italian champions Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium in their opening home fixture in Round 2, while they face Heineken Cup rivals Munster at Thomond Park on the weekend of 17 September.

Also heading to Ireland in Round 1 will be the other Italian newcomers Aironi Rugby, who will play the first competitive match in their history against Munster in either Cork or Limerick. That game will mean a quick-fire return to Munster for New Zealand No8 Nick Williams, who was one of the big summer signings for the new Italian franchise.

While Aironi, who have recruited a host of Italian internationals, head away for their first Magners League outing, Benetton Treviso will entertain the Scarlets at Stadio di Monigo.

Meanwhile, reigning Amlin Challenge Cup champions Cardiff Blues will be seeking revenge for their home defeat last season when they host Edinburgh in their opening game at the Cardiff City Stadium. The two teams also meet at the same venue in the first round of the Heineken Cup a month later.

The introduction of the two new Italian franchises will take the number of teams in the Magners League back up to 12 for the first time since the 2003/04 season, when Welsh rugby moved to a regional system.

Grand Final runners-up Leinster travel to another of the Play-Off sides last season, Glasgow Warriors, on the opening weekend, but then host Cardiff Blues at the RDS in Round 2.

The increase in numbers means there will be four extra rounds of matches in the league phase of the tournament. In order to accommodate this some games are scheduled to be played during the International windows in November and while the RBS 6 Nations championship is being played.

The 22 round league season kicks-off on the first weekend in September 2010 and runs through until the weekend of 6 May 2011. All games in Round 22 will kick-off simultaneously to ensure that no teams have an advantage when vying for Play-Off places or European qualification.

The top four teams in the regular season will once again progress to the Play-Off semi finals, which will be held on the weekend of 13 May. The Magners League Grand Final will be played on the weekend of 27 May, 2011.

At this stage the fixtures are weekend only dates. Specific dates, kick-off times and, in some cases, venues, will be released after consultation with the individual teams and the Magners League broadcast partners.

The TV partners for the 2010/11 season will include BBC ALBA (Scotland), BBC Northern Ireland, RTE and TG4 (Ireland), as well as long standing Welsh broadcasters BBC Wales and S4C.

All fixture times, dates and venues are subject to change.

To view a full fixture list for the new Magners League season, please click here