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Leinster’s title defence unveiled with Guinness PRO14 fixture list

Leinster’s title defence unveiled with Guinness PRO14 fixture list

Johnny Sexton led Leinster to the Guinness PRO14 title last season (Inpho)

Defending champions Leinster now know the size of the task awaiting them after the Guinness PRO14 fixtures for the new season were unveiled.

The champions open up in September with a testing trip to Italy to take on play-off history makers Benetton Rugby.

There is plenty to whet the appetite throughout the campaign that is delayed at the outset by the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The first inter-pros in Ireland arrive in early November when Connacht host Leinster, with the Guinness Six Nations stars like Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw set to face off, while Munster welcome Ulster, with a potential battle of Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls.

Then at Scotstoun at the end of November, Glasgow Warriors will be out for revenge for the final defeat in May when they face Leinster.

Christmas is full of cheer in the fixture list, with derbies all over the five countries that make up the Guinness PRO14.

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Alun Wyn Jones’ Ospreys will face the Cardiff Blues before Christmas, while in Scotland Glasgow lock horns with Edinburgh twice over the festive break – two games that will be sure to interest Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

Munster and Leinster play twice in the latest instalment of their age old rivalry.

The first clash between Peter O’Mahony’s boys and Johnny Sexton’s perennial champions comes on the 28th December at Thomond Park.

While the re-match takes place in April at the Aviva Stadium – likely to sit in between the European quarter and semi-finals in a challenging period for the provinces.

And then it will be all eyes on the final round of regular season games across both Conferences – in Ireland Ulster host Leinster and Munster welcome Connacht.

In Wales, Dragons welcome the Blues while the Ospreys take on the Scarlets, Glasgow and Edinburgh get reacquainted for the third time of the season as do Benetton and Zebre and the Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings.

Click here to view the full fixture list