Rugby
Guinness PRO 14 fixtures announced

The Guiness Pro14 rugby conferences will remain the same for the new season with the Cheetahs and the Kings again on opposite sides.

Organisers say this will ensure a balance of fixtures for all teams across the initial two seasons following expansion.

This decision comes after consultation with clubs across the PRO14 to determine the best course of action for the Championship and all of the teams who compete in it.

The overriding factor in this decision was the ability to ensure equal home and away fixtures for each team across a two-year window.

It also means that each team will have played away to all of the other sides in that same period meaning no fan will miss out on the diverse spread of talent that exists in the Guinness PRO14.

The first PRO14 season proved a hit with attendances, viewership and digital audiences all growing while the Championship set a new try-scoring record thanks to the fastest rucks in world rugby (81 percent three seconds or less).

Entering his 15th season as Tournament Director, David Jordan, said: “We are very satisfied with how the tournament, our teams and broadcasters handled the expansion into South Africa in the first Guinness PRO14 season and it is our responsibility to ensure we build upon that.

“Initially, we envisioned the Conference line-ups changing from year to year but having reviewed the previous season it was felt that our clubs would be better served working in a two-year cycle to ensure the balance of fixtures.

Mick Dawson, CEO of Leinster Rugby, said: “In this the second year of the new PRO14 format I think it’s important that we have secured the same Conferences for our teams but with the home and away draw alternating.

“This allows our supporters, who attended in record numbers last season, to again see the rivalries build on what was a hugely successful first full PRO14 season.”

The teams:
Conference A: Glasgow Warriors, Munster Rugby, Toyota Cheetahs, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Connacht Rugby, Zebre.

Conference B: Leinster Rugby, Scarlets, Edinburgh Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Benetton Rugby, Dragons, Southern Kings.

The Toyota Cheetahs will meet Munster in Ireland and the Southern Kings will take on Zebre Rugby in Italy in their opening Guinness PRO14 matches on Saturday, 1 September.

The competition kicks off on Friday, 31 August, with the 14 participating teams battling it out across 21 pool rounds in 152 matches throughout the season. The playoff stages will begin on Friday, 3 May 2019, and the champions will be crowned on 25 May 2019.

The Toyota Cheetahs gave a good account of themselves in their opening season, which concluded in May, as they advanced to the playoffs where they lost to eventual runners up, the Scarlets.

Both the Bloemfonteiners and their counterparts from Port Elizabeth, the Southern Kings, will look to make their presence felt after familiarising themselves with the opposition and competition structure last season.

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