Kings to play first Pro14 game against champs
NEWS: With the start of the Pro14 season just around the corner, the first fixture list for the newly expanded Championship has been announced.
The new season opens on the evening of Friday, September 1 as Ulster take on the Cheetahs.
The next day sees champions Scarlets welcome the Southern Kings. The Kings scored notable away wins in Super Rugby against the Bulls and the Waratahs and will be eager to make an early statement against a Welsh team packed full of international talent.
"Our expansion into South Africa has the future of the Championship at its heart – more sustainable clubs, attracting the best players, taking on different styles of rugby and entertaining the fans from whistle to whistle – and the release of these fixtures aims to immediately deliver on that," said PRO14 Rugby CEO Martin Anayi.
"With all the exciting news that has surrounded the unveiling of the Pro14 we know the fans have been eager to see the fixture list, but hopefully the wait has been worthwhile as we believe these fixtures will further enhance the excitement across each of the Championship's five territories."
Eleven existing derby games have been protected in the new Conference format, while Italian, Scottish and South African teams have the bonus of playing a total of three derbies each against their domestic rivals.
In 2016/17 the Pro12 featured 295 internationals and for the forth coming Championship season organisers of the Pro14 have worked closely with each of the unions to ensure that where possible derby games do not clash with international call-ups.
Rounds Six and Seven of the 2017/18 season fall either side of the European window and will see big derbies for the Irish and Welsh teams, with Munster visiting Leinster in Round Six at Dublin's Aviva Stadium and Scarlets hosting the Cardiff Blues in Round Seven. Scottish and Italian clubs will face off against each other in rounds 11 – 13 along with further derbies for the Welsh and Irish teams in Rounds 11 and 12.
To close the season fans from all the regions will be treated to a round of full-blooded derby action on Super Saturday in Round 21. Judgement Day returns to the Millenium in Cardiff to add something truly special to the final day of regular season action.
The Pro14 Final Series will begin on May 4 with the quarterfinal stages and the semifinals are slated for May 18. The two teams who emerge from these fixtures will meet in the Pro14's showpiece Final on Saturday, May 26.
Anayi added: "Working closely the clubs, unions and broadcast partners, who turned this schedule around very quickly, we believe we have created a calendar which will give fans the best experience possible to enjoy all of the positive play that the Pro14 prides itself on. Fans will be able to enjoy the fiercest rivalries, best international players and biggest variety of playing styles on offer in the history of the Championship."
For full fixture list - CLICK HERE