The RaboDirect Pro 12 season was officially launched in Belfast today by Northern Ireland Tourism Minister Arlene Foster.
The 2013-2014 competition will kick off on September 6th with Leinster away to Scarlets and Ulster away to Newport Gwent Dragons. On Saturday Connacht will take on Zebre at the Sportsgrounds then followed by Munster who will play Edinburgh in Musgrave Park.
The competition will run over 22 rounds with play-offs for the top four and a grand final to be played on May 31st 2014.
RaboDirect Pro 12 chairman Andy Irvine said at the launch, “Our competition is a breeding ground for developing young players and exciting open rugby which last season saw 526 tries which is almost 4 tries per match. The representation of the RaboDirect Pro12 players on the successful Lions Tour to Australia was the highest with 24 of the original 37 coming from the Celtic regions.”
All 12 participating club captains were present today to witness the official launch by Minister Foster who said,”It is a great honour to welcome the Rabo Direct Pro12 players and officials to Belfast for the launch of the 2013-14season, which promises to be every bit as exciting as previous years.
“Ulster Rugby is one of our iconic symbols, with the team and fans playing an important role as ambassadors for Northern Ireland, both at home and abroad. I look forward to seeing visiting fans from places as far apart as Glasgow and Treviso at the newly redeveloped Ravenhill, where they can be assured of the very best in hospitality and facilities.”
Connacht will welcome Ulster to Galway on September 21st for the first Inter Pro of the season while Munster will have to wait until October 5th to face defending champions Leinster in their first match if the season at Thomond Park. Both matches will be screened live on RTÉ.
A full list of the fixtures and live games can be found here.