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Pro12 take 'initial steps' to restructure season as 2016/17 fixture list revealed

Tournament organisers have rolled out a number of new initiatives for the forthcoming season.

Connacht face Glasgow in their opening game.
Connacht face Glasgow in their opening game.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

GUINNESS PRO12 CHAMPIONS Connacht will open their title defence against last year’s semi-finalists Glasgow Warriors after the fixtures for the new season were announced this afternoon.

Pat Lam’s side will begin their campaign against Glasgow at the Galway Sportsground on Friday 2 September while Leinster will face Treviso, Ulster will hosts the Dragons and Munster will travel to the Scarlets.

The 2016/17 season will see six ‘Big Weekends’ spread across the year that will comprise of intra-union derby matches while Friday evening games will be played at the new regular ‘appointment-to-view’ time of 7.35pm.

The first ‘Big Weekend’ of the season will take place in Round 6 with the clash between Leinster and Munster at the Aviva Stadium the headline act. Connacht will welcome Ulster to Galway while there will be two Welsh derbies and two clashes between the Scottish and Italian sides.

“We are delighted to announce the fixture list, as well as the designated broadcasters for the first 13 rounds, ahead of what promises to be a truly special Guinness Pro12 season,” Martin Anayi, managing director of Pro12 Rugby, said.

“After listening to feedback from both the clubs and fans, we have been able to take initial steps to restructure our season that puts the emphasis on creating the best experience possible for supporters.

“With 70 of the first 78 matches scheduled for live television, we have more free-to-air matches than ever before, while the majority of Friday night fixtures will be at the regular timeslot of 7.35pm, which our fans tell us is their preferred slot.

Sky Sports pitch side 70 of the opening 78 games are being shown live. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Our aim is to develop a schedule that puts the fan experience first and gives our clubs the best chance of bumper crowds coming to watch our star players in the biggest games of the season. Now our fans will get to experience big weekend atmospheres with mouth-watering fixtures spread across the whole season.

“For example, we have ensured that all teams have a home match in either Round 1 or 2, and in one of the last two rounds. Also, no club has three consecutive home or away matches – lending the competition a far better balance.”

The Pro12 final will take place on Saturday 27 May 2017 with the venue to be announced in due course.

Guinness Pro12 2016/17 Round 1 fixtures:

Friday, 2 September 2016 (7.35pm kick-off unless otherwise stated)

  • Leinster Rugby v Benetton Treviso
  • Ospreys v Zebre Rugby
  • Ulster Rugby v Newport Gwent Dragons

Saturday, 3 September 2016

  • Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh 
  • Connacht Rugby v Glasgow Warriors (5.15pm)
  • Scarlets v Munster Rugby (3pm)

Full fixture list available here 

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Ryan Bailey

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