Guinness confirmed as new sponsors of Pro 12 as fixture list released
October date for Leinster’s clash with Munster at the Aviva stadium – Pro 12 fixture list for 2014-2015
Pro 12 holders Leinster celebrate defeating Glasgow Warriors in the final last season. Photograph: Inpho
JOHN O’SULLIVAN The official announcement of Guinness as the new sponsors of the Pro 12 tournament took place in tandem with the release of the fixtures for the 2014-2015 season but the changes extend beyond much further than the name above the door, so to speak, of the competition.
Celtic Rugby’s four year television deal with Sky Sports will mean that all the games in the Pro 12 will no longer be available on terrestrial television. In practical terms, for example only one of matches between Leinster and Munster will be screened live on RTE or TG4.
Sky Sports have the option of screening either the game at the Aviva stadium (weekend of October 2nd/3rd/4th) or the clash at Thomond Park (December 26th/27th/28th) live on their network. There are entitled to do for one of the two games in every head-to-head between the teams in the tournament.
To watch club rugby in the Northern Hemisphere from next season on a comprehensive level, will require a financial investment - Sky Sports, BT Sport - from a television subscription perspective or a trip to the pub.
Guinness succeed Dutch on line bank RaboDirect, who had given their name to the competition for the past three years, penning a two year deal with an option to extend that contract.
The Diageo owned brand already boasts a high profile in rugby, both in Ireland and globally, through their sponsorship of the Irish internationals in the November Test series at the Aviva stadium and their presence as official beer to the British & Irish Lions, Rugby World Cup and the English Premiership to name but three.
The opening weekend of next season’s Guinness Pro 12 offers a repeat of last year’s final between Leinster and the Glasgow Warriors at the RDS; albeit that this game takes place in Scotstoun.
Munster host Edinburgh on the same weekend, Ulster, under interim coach Les Kiss travel to the Scarlets, while Connacht welcome the Newport Gwent Dragons to the Sportsground.
One of the competition’s biggest rivalries gets a first airing when Leinster host Munster at the Aviva stadium on the first weekend in October. Munster face Ulster at Thomond Park on the last weekend in November.
The Christmas period once again throws up a host of interprovincial matches starting with Leinster’s clash with Connach at the RDS (December 20th/21st/22nd). Munster welcome Leinster to Thomond Park (December 26th/27th/28th) on the same weekend that Ulster face Connacht.
On the first weekend in January 2015 (2nd/3rd/4th) Leinster entertain Ulster at the RDS and Connacht are at home to Munster in Galway.
Ulster host Leinster and Munster at the newly named Kingspan stadium on successive weekends in late April and early May.
There is no break betwen the end of the league proper stage of the tournament and the playoffs with the semi-final and final following on from the last round of matches.
PRO 12 FIXTURES 2014-2015 Round One (September 6th-7th) Connacht v Newport Gwent Dragons, Glasgow Warriors v Leinster Munster v Edinburgh Ospreys v Benetton Treviso Scarlets v Ulster Zebre v Cardiff Blues Round Two (September 12th-14th) Benetton Treviso v Munster Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors Edinburgh v Connacht Leinster v Scarlets Newport Gwent Dragons v Ospreys Ulster v Zebre Round Three (September 19th-21st) Cardiff Blues v Ulster Connacht v Leinster Newport Gwent Dragons v Glasgow Warriors Ospreys v Edinburgh Scarlets v Benetton Treviso Zebre v Munster Round Four (September 26th-28th) Edinburgh Rugby v Scarlets Glasgow Warriors v Connacht Leinster v Cardiff Blues Munster v Ospreys Newport Gwent Dragons v Benetton Treviso Zebre v Ulster Round Five (October 3rd-5th) Benetton Treviso v Glasgow Warriors Connacht v Cardiff Blues Leinster v Munster Zebre v Ospreys Scarlets v Newport Gwent Dragons Ulster v Edinburgh