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Home and away: Irish provinces handed tough European openers

Leinster will begin their Heineken Cup campaign in Montpellier’s Stade de la Mosson on 12 November.

Will Leinster be able to retain their European crown in 2012?
Will Leinster be able to retain their European crown in 2012?
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

LEINSTER WILL LAUNCH their defence of the Heineken Cup with a tricky away trip against Montpellier as the fixtures for the opening four rounds of the 2011/2012 tournament were confirmed this morning.

For the competition’s 24 teams, the road to Twickenham 2012 will start on the weekend of 11/12 November, less than three weeks after the Rugby World Cup champion is crowned in Auckland’s Eden Park.

Joe Schmidt’s men kick off their European campaign in southern France at 2.30pm on Saturday 12th, with Ulster also taking on Gallic opposition, hosting Clermont Auvergne in Ravenhill later that afternoon.

First up for Munster are last season’s beaten finalists Northampton who travel to Thomond Park for Saturday’s early-evening kick-off.

Heineken Cup newcomers Connacht will begin their continental adventure on the evening of Friday 11th when they make the short journey across the water to face Challenge Cup holders Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.

The 79-game competition concludes on the weekend of 19/20 May in London.

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11 November: Harlequins v Connacht, 8pm (Sky Sports)

12 November: Montpellier v Leinster, 2.30pm; Ulster v Clermont Auvergne, 3.40pm (Sky Sports); Munster v Northampton, 6pm (Sky Sports)

19 November: Castres v Munster, 3.40pm; Connacht v Toulouse, 6pm (Sky Sports); Leicester v Ulster, 6pm (Sky Sports)

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20 November: Leinster v Glasgow, 12.45pm (Sky Sports)

9 December: Ulster v Aironi, 7.30pm

10 December: Connacht v Gloucester, 1.30pm (Sky Sports); Scarlets v Munster, 3.40pm (Sky Sports)

11 December: Bath v Leinster, 12.45pm (Sky Sports)

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Niall Kelly

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