Munster will kick off the new rugby campaign with a friendly encounter against Bath at Thomond Park in September as all four provinces line up pre-season clashes for what they hope will be a return to a regular fixture list with fans in attendance for the first time in a year and a half.
Johann van Graan’s men will open their season against Bath, who will play Leinster in the Heineken Champions Cup in December, at Thomond Park on Saturday, September 4 (3pm) before travelling to play Premiership runners-up Exeter Chiefs the following Saturday at Sandy Park (3pm).
Leinster, who have also returned to training, will host Premiership champions Harlequins on Friday, September 10, with the venue to be confirmed when there is further clarity around Covid restrictions.
It’s expected that Leo Cullen’s men will have at least one more preparatory game before the new United Rugby Championship, featuring the four main South African franchises, kicks off on the final weekend in September.
Dan McFarland’s Ulster will prepare for the new season with clashes against Mark McCall’s Saracens, who return to the Premiership after a season in the Championship. The first game will be at Kingspan Stadium on Friday, September 3, with a clash at the Honorary Artillery Company in Central London the following Thursday, September 9 (5pm).
Connacht will travel to play Worcester Warriors on Friday, September 3, with Andy Friend’s set to announce at least one other warm-up match before the competitive season kicks off later that month.
Ulster v Saracens at Kingspan Stadium (7pm) Worcester Warriors v Connacht, Sixways Stadium (7.45pm)
Munster v Bath, Thomond Park (3pm)
: Saracens v Ulster, Honorary Artillery Company (5pm)
Leinster v Harlequins, venue tbc (7pm)
Exeter Chiefs v Munster, Sandy Park (3pm)