Leinster get Pro14 defence underway in Wales as inter-pro dates rejigged

There will be two rounds of inter-provincial clashes leading into the first European weekend of the season.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS LEINSTER will open their 2018/19 Guinness Pro14 campaign with a visit to the Cardiff Blues on Friday 31 August [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport and TG4], before facing the Scarlets in Wales on Saturday 8 September [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport and TG4].

Isa Nacewa lifts the trophy Leinster are the defending champions. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tournament organisers have confirmed the fixture list for the upcoming season, with Munster set to welcome the Cheetahs to Thomond Park in their first game on Saturday 1 September [KO 5.15pm, eir Sport], followed by a trip to Glasgow Warriors on Friday 7 September [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport].

The new Andy Friend era at Connacht will get underway with the visit of Glasgow Warriors to the Sportsground on Saturday 1 September [KO 3pm, eir Sport and TG4], before Michael Bradley’s Zebre come to town on Saturday 8 September [KO 5.15pm, TG4].

And Ulster’s attempts to bounce back from last season’s disappointing efforts will begin at home to the Scarlets on Saturday 1 September [KO 5.15pm, eir Sport], followed by another clash at Kingspan Stadium against Edinburgh the following Friday [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport].

It has been confirmed that there will be no changes to the make-up of the two conferences in the Pro14 this season following consultation with the clubs after last season saw the introduction of the system.

The Pro14 says “the overriding factor in this decision was the ability to ensure equal home and away fixtures for each team across a two-year window.”

There are changes in the inter-provincial calendar within the Pro14 for the upcoming season, however.

As reported by The42 last week, there will be two rounds of Irish derbies leading into the first European weekend of the season.

Connacht will face Leinster in Galway on Saturday 29 September, the same day Munster host Ulster at Thomond Park.

Tempers flare during the game The inter-provincial schedule has been re-jigged. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ulster will then welcome Connacht to Belfast on 5 October, with Leinster hosting Munster at the Aviva Stadium the following day.

The festive inter-provincial derbies will now be on different dates too – meaning no fixtures on St. Stephen’s Day – with the first round on 21/22 December and the second ties on 28/29 December.

The derby games across the championship on the final weekend of the regular season in late April will continue as before.

With fixture dates, times and TV broadcasters confirmed all the way up until Round 17 in early March, supporters can see the full official fixture list on the Pro14 website.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that Welsh language broadcaster S4C will continue to show free-to-air Pro14 games in Wales in 2021.

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S4C will screen one game per round on television and via the S4C Clic service, with BBC Wales producing the coverage.

S4C will broadcast 17 games live in conjunction with primary-rights holder Premier Sports, with a further four games shown on delay. If a Welsh region reaches the Pro14 final, the decider will also be shown live on S4C.

With eir Sport on board as Irish broadcasters and Premier Sports taking over in the UK and Northern Ireland, all 152 games in the Pro14 will be televised live this season.

- This article was updated at 2.30pm to reflect the fact that Munster’s opening game of the season is at Thomond Park, and not Musgrave Park as erroneously stated.

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