MUNSTER will open their Heineken Cup Pool 1 campaign at home to last year’s beaten finalists, Northampton Saints, at Thomond Park on Saturday, November 12.
The fixture, which has a 6pm kick-off, is the third time the sides will meet at Thomond Park in 22 months. Munster edged a nail-biting Round 6 pool match in January 2010 on a 12-9 scoreline to secure a home quarter-final, ironically against the Saints at the same venue in April.
That game proved a far more open affair with Munster prevailing on a 33-19 scoreline with Doug Howlett grabbing a brace of touchdowns, while Paul Warwick and Jean de Villiers also crossed the whitewash.
The later than usual start date for the tournament is as a result of the Rugby World Cup which takes place in new Zealand in September and October.
Munster’s second round fixture in next season’s Heineken Cup will involve a trip to France to face Castres Olympique seven days later.
Tony McGahan’s men face back-to-back fixtures against Scarlets in December, beginning with an away game on Saturday, December 10 , before the sides face-off again at Thomond Park on Sunday, December 18 at 12.45pm.
Munster complete their programme of Pool games with a home Round 5 tie against Castres Olympique on the weekend of January 13-15, before the two-time Cup winners face the return match against the Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens a week later.
Commenting on Munster’s Heineken Cup pool draw, the province’s forwards coach, Anthony Foley said: “We’re up against sides we know well. Northampton Saints, beaten finalists this year, we had them in our group in 2009/2010 and then again in the quarter final. The final scoreline that day didn’t reflect the closeness of the game. Then the Scarlets, we play them twice a season in the League, never an easy touch. They’ve a good European pedigree and of course Castres have been around a long time.”
“The competition kicks off shortly after the World Cup final and how lads come through that will obviously have a bearing. We’ve landed ourselves in a very interesting group that will likely only provide one qualifier.”
Friday, November 11
Pool 6 Harlequins v Connacht Rugby 20.00 Sky Sports
Saturday, November 12
Pool 1 Munster v Northampton Saints 18.00 Sky Sports
Pool 3 Montpellier v Leinster (Stade de la Mosson) 14.30 Canal+
Pool 4 Ulster Rugby v ASM Clermont Auvergne 15.40 Sky Sports
Saturday, November 19
Pool 1 Castres Olympique v Munster 16.40 FR2
Pool 4 Leicester Tigers v Ulster Rugby 18.00 Sky Sports
Pool 6 Connacht Rugby v Toulouse 18.00 Sky Sports
Sunday, November, 20
Pool 3 Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 12.45 Sky Sports
Friday, December 9
Pool 4 Ulster Rugby v Aironi Rugby 19.30
Saturday, December 10
Pool 1 Scarlets v Munster 15.40 Sky Sports
Pool 6 Connacht Rugby v Gloucester Rugby 13.30 Sky Sports
Sunday, December 11
Pool 3 Bath Rugby v Leinster 12.45 Sky Sports
Saturday, December 17
Pool 3 Leinster v Bath Rugby (Aviva Stadium) 18.00 Sky Sports
Pool 6 Gloucester Rugby v Connacht Rugby 15.40 Sky Sports
Pool 4 Aironi Rugby v Ulster Rugby 14.30 Sky Italia
Sunday, December 18
Pool 1 Munster v Scarlets 12.45 Sky Sports
January 13-15, 2011
Pool 1 Munster v Castres Olympique
Pool 3 Glasgow Warriors v Leinster
Pool 4 Ulster Rugby v Leicester Tigers
Pool 6 Toulouse v Connacht Rugby
Pool 1 Northampton Saints v Munster
Pool 3 Leinster v Montpellier
Pool 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Ulster Rugby
Pool 6 Connacht Rugby v Harlequins
Quarter-finals: April 6-8
Semi-finals: April 27-29
Final: May 19-20, Twickenham