Connacht and Ulster will open up their RaboDirect PRO12 campaigns with home ties, while the other two provinces face trips to Britain.

The new season will begin on the weekend of 31 August-2 September, with 2011 Heineken Cup finalists Ulster entertaining Glasgow Warriors at Ravenhill. Connacht will welcome Cardiff Blues to The Sportsground.

Leinster begin their season with a testing trip to face Simon Easterby's Scarlets, while new Munster coach Rob Penney will lead the province for the first time when they face Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

The Ospreys will begin the defence of their title with a trip to Italy to face Treviso.

The Welsh region's thrilling victory over European champions Leinster in last season's final made them the first side to secure four titles.

Italian side Zebre, who have taken the place of the now defunct Aironi, go to Rodney Parade to face the Newport Gwent Dragons.

The Christmas and New Year period is again set aside for local derbies, while the semi-finals will take place over the weekend of 11 May, with the final to be held on Saturday, 25 May.