For many the rugby season in the northern hemisphere begins in earnest in the month of October with the opening two rounds of the rebranded Heineken Champions Cup. Leinster will begin the defence of their title at the RDS when they host Wasps, aware that the London club thumped their hosts 33-6 at the venue in 2015.
But before that the Irish provinces renew their sibling rivalry for the second weekend in succession with Leinster hosting Munster at the Aviva stadium on Saturday and Connacht travelling to Belfast 24 hours earlier in what have become traditional fixtures ahead of European competition.
It also represents the final weekend of the Rugby Championship with champions New Zealand heading for South Africa and a chance to avenge a defeat to the Springboks earlier in the campaign. Argentina hosts the Wallabies looking for back-to-back victories over Michael Cheika’s side.
The first weekend in October also sees the start of the All-Ireland League for Division 1A and 1B. Shannon are back among the elite in the club game after a long hiatus by their standards while everyone will be looking to wrest the title from the grasp of Mike Ruddock’s Lansdowne. Clontarf get the first chance at Castle Avenue in a Friday night lights match.
The European Champions and Challenge Cups begin the following weekend with Leo Cullen’s Leinster alongside fellow four-time champions Toulouse, Wasps and Bath. Munster open their campaign with a devilishly tough trip to Exeter to take on the Chiefs, while Ulster host familiar foes in the Leicester Tigers. In the Challenge Cup Connacht welcome Bordeaux Begles to the Sportsground.
The following weekend, Munster are at home to Gloucester while Ulster are in Paris and Leinster in Toulouse. By the time the month is over the Celtic Cup finalists will be known, the winners in Pool A taking on the winners of Pool B and thereby guaranteeing an Ireland-Wales final in the form of A sides from the eight clubs and provinces.
Pro 14: Edinburgh v Cheetahs (7.35); Glasgow v Zebre (7.35); Ulster v Connacht (7.35)
Celtic Cup: Ospreys A v Ulster Ravens, Swansea (7.0); Munster A v Scarlets A, Musgrave Park (7.30).
AIL Division 1A: Clontarf v Lansdowne (8.0)
Division 2A: Old Crescent v Cashel (8.0)
Division 2B: Skerries v MU Barnhall (8.0)
Rugby Championship: South Africa v New Zealand, Loftus Versfeld (4.05); Argentina v Australia, Estadio Padre Ernesto Marear, Salta (11.40pm)
Pro 14: Scarlets v Ospreys (3.0); Dragons v Cardiff Blues (5.15); Leinster v Munster (Aviva stadium, 6.0); Benetton Rugby v Southern Kings (7.0)
Celtic Cup: Dragons A v Leinster A, Ystrad Mynach (2.30); Connacht Eagles v Cardiff Blues A, Sportsground (2.0)
AIL Division 1A (2.30): Cork Constitution v Shannon; Garryowen v Dublin University; UCD v UCC; Young Munster v Terenure College.
Division 1B (2.30): Ballymena v Malone; Buccaneers v Naas; City of Armagh v Old Wesley; Old Belvedere v Banbridge; St Mary's v Ballynahinch.
Division 2A (2.30): Dolphin v Navan; Galwegians v UL Bohemian; Highfield v QUB; Nenagh Ormond v Blackrock.
Division 2B (2.30): Belfast Harlequins v Sunday's Well ; Greystones v Corinthians; Rainey OB v Wanderers; Sligo v Dungannon.
Division 2C (2.30): Bangor v Thomond; Bruff v City of Derry; Omagh v Malahide; Seapoint v Midleton; Tullamore v Ballina.
Champions Cup: Leinster v Wasps, RDS (7.45)
AIL Division 1A (8.0): Shannon v Young Munster; UCC v Cork Constitution.
Division 2A: UL Bohemian v Nenagh (8.0)
Champions Cup: Bath v Toulouse, Recreation Ground (1.0); Exeter Chiefs v Munster, Sandy Park (3.15); Montpellier v Edinburgh, GGL stadium (3.15); Scarlets v Racing 92, Parc y Scarlets (5.30); Ulster v Leicester Tigers, Kingspan stadium (5.30).
Challenge Cup: Connacht v Bordeaux-Begles, Sportsground (3.0)
AIL Division 1A (2.30): Dublin University v UCD; Lansdowne v Garryowen; Terenure v Clontarf.
Division 1B: Ballynahinch v City of Armagh; Banbridge v Buccaneers; Malone v St Mary's; Naas v Ballymena; Old Wesley v Old Belvedere.
Division 2A (2.30): Cashel v Highfield; Dolphin v Old Crescent; Navan v Blackrock; QUB v Galwegians.
Division 2B (2.30): Dungannon v Belfast Harlequins; Corinthians v Sunday's Well; Greystones v Rainey OB; MU Barnhall v Sligo; Wanderers v Skerries.
Division 2C (2.30): Ballina v Malahide; City of Derry v Seapoint; Midleton v Bangor; Thomond v Omagh; Tullamore v Bruff.
Champions Cup: Gloucester v Castres, Kingsholm (1.0); Lyon v Cardiff Blues, Matmut stadium (1.0); Toulon v Newcastle Falcons, Stade Felix Mayol (3.15); Glasgow Warriors v Saracens, Scotstoun (3.15).
Celtic Cup: Connacht Eagles v Ulster Ravens, Sportsground, 3.30
Champions Cup: Leicester Tigers v Scarlets, Welford Road (7.45)
AIL Division 1A: UCD v Lansdowne (8.0)
Champions Cup: Munster v Gloucester, Thomond Park (1.0); Castres v Exeter, Stade Pierre Fabre (1.0); Wasps v Bath (3.15), Ricoh Arena; Edinburgh v Toulon, Murrayfield (3.15); Racing 92 v Ulster, Paris La Defense Arena (5.30); Saracens v Lyon, Allianz Park (5.30)
Challenge Cup: Sale Sharks v Connacht, AJ Bell stadium (3.0)
AIL Division 1A (2.30): Clontarf v Garryowen; Cork Constitution v Dublin University; Terenure v Shannon; Young Munster v UCC.
Division 1B (2.30): Ballymena v St Mary's; Buccaneers v Old Wesley; City of Armagh v Malone; Naas v Banbridge; Old Belvedere v Ballynahinch
Champions Cup: Newcastle Falcons v Montpellier, Kingston Park (1.0); Toulouse v Leinster, Stade Ernest Wallon (3.15); Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors, Arms Park (3.15)
Pro 14: Southern Kings v Scarlets (6.0); Zebre v Edinburgh (7.0); Ulster v Dragons (7.55); Ospreys v Connacht (Morganstown Brewery Field, 8.05)
AIL Division 1B: Old Wesley v Naas (8.0)
Division 2A: Highfield v Dolphin (8.0)
Division 2B: Skerries v Greystones (8.0)
Bledisloe Cup: New Zealand v Australia, Nissan stadium, Yokohama (TBC)
Pro 14: Benetton Rugby v Leinster (3.0); Munster v Glasgow (5.15); Cheetahs v Cardiff Blues (6.15)
AIL Division 1A (2.30): Dublin University v Young Munster; Garryowen v UCD; Lansdowne v Cork Constitution; Shannon v Clontarf; UCC v Terenure.
Division 1B (2.30): Ballynahinch v Buccaneers ; Banbridge v Ballymena; Malone v Old Belvedere; St Mary's v City of Armagh.
Division 2A (2.30): Blackrock v UL Bohemian; Galwegians v Cashel; Nenagh Ormond v QUB; Old Crescent v Navan.
Division 2B (2.30): Belfast Harlequins v MU Barnhall; Rainey OB v Corinthians; Sligo v Wanderers; Sunday's Well v Dungannon.
Division 2C (2.30): Bangor v City of Derry; Bruff v Ballina; Malahide v Thomond ; Omagh v Midleton; Seapoint v Tullamore.