Munster begin title defence against Sharks as URC fixtures revealed

Munster begin title defence against Sharks as URC fixtures revealed

Title holders Munster will kick off their URC season at home to the Sharks.

The United Rugby Championship (URC) fixtures for the 2023/2024 season have been announced and title holders Munster will open their season with a clash with South African side Cell C Sharks at Thomond Park.

The fixtures for the new season have been shared 102 days in advance of kick-off; the earliest release in the competition’s history.

That will allow fans plenty of time to plan for their travels, with a weekend in Glasgow, for example, on the cards for Leinster fans in round one.

The first fixture of the regular season’s 144 games will come from Italy when Ulster travel to face Zebre Parma, before Connacht host Ospreys at the same time that the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers contest the first derby of the year.

Munster URC Keith Earls

URC provide information on competition alterations.

‘After a two-year window of home or away fixtures against non-Shield opponents, the sequencing has been refreshed,’ said the United Rugby Championship official website.

‘The home and away sequence from this season will be reversed for the 2024/25 campaign to ensure a fair balance of home and away games against the same opponents over a two-year cycle.

‘In a new approach aimed at reducing long-haul travel across the league, the South African teams will tour twice rather than three times.’

‘The opening weekends of the URC will see games played across Saturday and Sunday afternoons to avoid clashes with Rugby World Cup fixtures on Friday and Saturday nights.

‘With no November Test series break, URC teams will take on a schedule of 11 consecutive weekends of rugby (including EPCR) so January will also provide two relief weekends for teams to take a break in play and to accommodate traditional festive fixturing on December 26 (Tuesday) in Wales and Ireland.

Round One Fixtures for the 2023/2024 season.

Saturday, October 21

Zebre Parma v Ulster | 13.00 IRE & UK / 14.00 ITA & SA | ITA, Viaplay, SuperSport, Premier Sports

Connacht v Ospreys | 15.00 IRE & UK / 16.00 ITA & SA | TG4, S4C, Viaplay, SuperSport, Premier Sports

Emirates Lions v DHL Stormers | 15.05 IRE & UK / 16.05 ITA & SA | SuperSport, Viaplay, Premier Sports

Dragons RFC v Edinburgh | 15.05 IRE & UK / 16.05 ITA & SA | Viaplay, SuperSport, Premier Sports

Cardiff Rugby v Benetton | 17.15 IRE & UK / 18.15 ITA & SA | S4C, Viaplay, SuperSport, Premier Sports

Munster v Cell C Sharks | 17.15 IRE & UK / 18.15 ITA & SA | TG4, Viaplay, SuperSport, Premier Sports

Sunday, October 22

Vodacom Bulls v Scarlets | 14.00 IRE & UK / 15.00 ITA & SA | SuperSport, BBC Wales, Viaplay, Premier Sports

Glasgow Warriors v Leinster | 16.00 IRE & UK / 17.00 ITA & SA | Viaplay, RTÉ, SuperSport, Premier Sports