With the start of Guinness PRO14 season just around the corner, the first fixture list for the newly expanded Championship has been announced.
Fixtures can be found here
The highly-anticipated fixture announcement follows the announcement that the Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings have joined the Guinness PRO14 and that the Championship will move to a Conference format.
Martin Anayi, CEO PRO14 Rugby, commented: “Our expansion into South Africa has the future of the Championship at its heart – more sustainable clubs, attracting the best players, taking on different styles of rugby and entertaining the fans from whistle to whistle – and the release of these fixtures aims to immediately deliver on that. With all the exciting news that has surrounded the unveiling of the Guinness PRO14 we know the fans have been eager to see the fixture list, but hopefully the wait has been worthwhile as we believe these fixtures will further enhance the excitement across each of the Championship’s five territories.”
The new season opens on the evening of Friday 1st September as Ulster take on Toyota Cheetahs live on BBC Northern Ireland, the game will also be screened live in South Africa with our broadcaster who will be confirmed in the coming days.
The next day sees champions Scarlets welcome the Southern Kings live on Sky Sports at Parc Y Scarlets. Last season the Kings scored notable away wins in Super Rugby against the Bulls and the Waratahs and will be eager to make an early statement against a Welsh team packed full of international talent.
All existing Derby games have been protected in the new Conference format, while Italian, Scottish and South African teams have the bonus of playing a total of three Derbies each against their domestic rivals.
In 2016/17 the Guinness PRO12 featured 295 internationals and for the forth coming Championship season organisers of the Guinness PRO14 have worked closely with each of the unions to ensure that where possible derby games do not clash with international call-ups.
Rounds 6 and 7 of the 2017/18 season fall either side of the European window and will see big derbies for the Irish and Welsh teams, with Munster visiting Leinster in Round 6 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and Scarlets hosting the Cardiff Blues in Round 7. Scottish and Italian clubs will face off against each other in rounds 11 – 13 along with further derbies for the Welsh and Irish teams in Rounds 11 and 12.
To close the season fans from all the regions will be treated to a round of full-blooded derby action on Super Saturday in Round 21. Judgement Day returns to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff to add something truly special to the final day of regular season action.
The Guinness PRO14 Final Series will begin on May 4 with the Quarter-Final stages and the Semi-Finals are slated for May 18. The two teams who emerge from these fixtures will meet in the Gunness PRO14’s showpiece Final on Saturday, May 26.
Anayi added: “Working closely the clubs, unions and broadcast partners, who turned this schedule around very quickly, we believe we have created a calendar which will give fans the best experience possible to enjoy all of the Positive Play that the Guinness PRO14 prides itself on. Fans will be able to enjoy the fiercest rivalries, best international players and biggest variety of playing styles on offer in the history of the Championship.”
Please Note: All fixtures are subject to change
Please Note: Some dates and KO times for non-televised games are still outstanding and will be confirmed in due course once clubs have made their requests. Additionally, South African and Italian broadcasters will also be confirmed in the coming days and A PDF of the fixtures which includes the games they have provisionally selected can be found here
About the Guinness PRO14
The Guinness PRO14 Championship is made up of 14 clubs – four Irish, four Welsh, two Scottish, two Italian and for the first time this season two South African teams – who compete in two conferences to reach the Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals and Final.
A total of 295 International players appeared in the Guinness PRO12 during the 2016/17 season with 27 players from the Championship called up to the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
A record 711 tries were scored during the 2016/17 regular season.
The 2017 Guinness PRO12 Final at Aviva Stadium set a new attendance record of 44,566 for the Championship decider.