Leinster to begin defence against Scarlets
July 19, 2013
Leinster will begin the defence of their PRO12 crown away to Scarlets © PA Photos
The fixtures for the latest battle for PRO12 glory have been released with champions Leinster set to begin the defence of their title against one of last season's beaten semi-finalists Scarlets.
The Irish province claimed last season's title with a 24-18 victory over Ulster in Joe Schmidt's last game in charge with new coach Matt O'Connor set to guide them into the new campaign - starting with the clash at Parc Y Scarlets.
Ulster travel to Rodney Parade to tackle Newport Gwent Dragons on the first weekend of September while the other semi-finalists Glasgow play host to Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun. The fixtures also include the traditional local derbies over the festive period, whilst the final round of the regular season is scheduled for May 9/10/11. The play-offs follow a week later with the final scheduled for the last weekend in May.
Tournament director David Jordan commented: "It is ten years since the competition changed to a home and away format and four years since the introduction of the end of season play-offs. During that time a regular season pattern has emerged and we have seen increases in both attendances and viewing figures so fans are obviously enjoying the rugby that is on offer in the RaboDirect PRO12.
"In the coming season fans in the home Unions have the added excitement of the victorious British and Irish Lions players returning to their clubs to look forward to as well. Since the inception of the competition five different teams have taken the title, although interestingly no champions have ever defended their crown, Leinster will have a challenge on their hands in the coming season."
RaboDirect PRO12 Season 2013-14:
Round 1 - September 6/7/8
Round 2 - September 13/14/15
Round 3 - September 20/21/22
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton