Reigning champions Munster will launch their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign at Musgrave Park in the opening weekend of the newly named competition.
Round 1 sees the team that haven’t lost a RaboDirect PRO12 game in Cork for three years and 11 games (18-21 v Glasgow Warriors on May 10, 2008) tackle Welsh rivals Newport Gwent Dragons as the season kicks-off on Friday, September 2.
Mighty Munster were undefeated in 13 home matches last season as they marched to their third title, beating the 2010 champions the Ospreys in the semi-finals and then outgunning Leinster 19-9 in the Grand Final a week after the Dublin-based side had been crowned champions of Europe.
Leinster find themselves travelling to the Liberty Stadium to face the Ospreys in their opening match in what will be a re-run of the 2010 Grand Final, when the Welsh region triumphed in Dublin.
The first round will also see Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues get an early glimpse of each other as they prepare to meet again in Pool 2 of next season’s Heineken Cup. The other opening weekend fixtures see Benetton Treviso host Connacht at Stadio Monigo, Glasgow Warriors travel to Ravenhill to meet Ulster and the Scarlets entertain Aironi at Parc y Scarlets.
The RaboDirect PRO12 will continue through September and early October while the Rugby World Cup is being played in New Zealand, but there will be a two-week break after the weekend of October 7 while the semi-finals and final of the global tournament are played.
It will be back to business on the weekend of October 28 ahead of the opening Pool weekends of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.
The first wave of derby clashes will take place on November 4 ahead of the opening Pool weekends of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.
Leinster will host Munster at the RDS, the Dragons entertain Cardiff Blues at their re-built Rodney Parade ground and the Ospreys play the Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium.
There will be two rounds of matches played during the 2012 RBS 6 Nations and the final round of games will be played on the weekend of May 4, 2012.
The RaboDirect PRO12 Play-Offs, between the top four finishing teams in the regular season, will take place on the weekend of May 11 and the RaboDirect PRO12 Grand Final will be on Saturday, May 26, 2012.