Celtic League - Ospreys open defence in Belfast

PA Sport - Thu, 22 Jul 14:58:00 2010

Ospreys will begin the defence of their Celtic League crown by travelling to face Ulster at Ravenhill on the opening weekend of the new season.

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The clash sees Ireland and British and Irish Lions winger Tommy Bowe, who scored a try in the Welsh region's Grand Final success against Leinster in May, return to face his former side on the weekend of September 3 to 5.

New Leinster coach Josef Schmidt faces a testing first game in charge as his side travel to face Glasgow Warriors, who reached the semi-finals last term.

This season's competition also sees the introduction of two Italian sides in the form of Benetton Treviso and Aironi Rugby, and the latter have been handed the daunting task of travelling to face two-time champions Munster first up, while Treviso will host the Scarlets.

The addition of the two Italian sides brings the number of teams in the competition up to 12, with the resulting extra rounds of fixtures due to take place during the autumn internationals and the Six Nations.

Challenge Cup champions Cardiff Blues will get the chance to gain a psychological advantage when they host Heineken Cup pool opponents Edinburgh at Cardiff City Stadium, while the weekend's other match sees Connacht host the Newport Gwent Dragons.

As in previous seasons the festive period has been set aside for traditional derby clashes, while the final round of regular season games will all kick off at the same time to ensure no side gains an advantage in the chase for semi-final and European qualification.

PA Sport

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