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Published: 12:20 | 13/7/16

Glasgow first up for Connacht

Reigning champions Connacht will begin the defence of our Guinness PRO12 title at home to Glasgow Warriors.

Connacht clinched their first-ever PRO12 title last season when they defeated Leinster in the and Pat Lam's side will be hoping to pick up where they left off when they host the Scottish side at the Sportsground in a repeat of last season's semi-final.

The new season kicks off on Friday, September 2 with last year's finalists Leinster welcoming Benetton Rugby Treviso to the RDS, as Ulster host Newport Gwent Dragons at the Kingspan Stadium.

Munster open up their campaign with a trip to Scarlets, Cardiff Blues entertain Edinburgh Rugby and Zebre Rugby will head to the Ospreys.

In a change to previous seasons, organisers have designated six 'Big Weekends' across the campaign which will see big derby matches schedule and the first of these will take place in round 6 when Leinster host Munster at the Aviva Stadium, Connacht welcome Ulster to the Sportsground, Scarlets take on Dragons, Cardiff Blues travel to Ospreys, Edinburgh host Treviso and Zebre face Glasgow.

As well as the 'Big Weekends', Friday matches will generally kick off at 7.35pm to ensure fans are not caught out by earlier start times.

"We are delighted to announce the fixture list, as well as the designated broadcasters for the first 13 rounds, ahead of what promises to be a truly special Guinness PRO12 season,” said Martin Anayi, managing director of PRO12 Rugby.

"After listening to feedback from both the clubs and fans, we have been able to take initial steps to restructure our season that puts the emphasis on creating the best experience possible for supporters.

"With 70 of the first 78 matches scheduled for live television, we have more free-to-air matches than ever before, while the majority of Friday night fixtures will be at the regular timeslot of 19:35, which our fans tell us is their preferred slot.

"Our aim is to develop a schedule that puts the fan experience first and gives our clubs the best chance of bumper crowds coming to watch our star players in the biggest games of the season. Now our fans will get to experience big weekend atmospheres with mouth-watering fixtures spread across the whole season.

"For example, we have ensured that all teams have a home match in either Round 1 or 2, and in one of the last two rounds. Also, no club has three consecutive home or away matches – lending the competition a far better balance.”

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