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Kiss' men will kick-off Euro bid with trip to Bordeaux

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 20/08/2016

Familiar face: Ian Madigan
Familiar face: Ian Madigan

Ulster's bid for a return to the Champions Cup knock-out stages will begin in the south west of France with a trip to Bordeaux-Begles.

The visit to the Stade Chaban-Delmas will take place on Sunday, October 16 at 1pm and the hosts' new signing Ian Madigan will quickly reacquaint himself with some of his Irish international colleagues.

The first home clash for Les Kiss' men in Pool Five will bring Exeter Chiefs, and their Ulster natives Gareth Steenson and Ian Whitten, to the Kingspan Stadium six days later.

With league inter-pros against Connacht and Munster also slated for October, as well as the hosting of Ospreys, the season's second month now looks like having a big impact on Ulster's campaign.

The traditional back-to-backs will see Ulster host Clermont on December 10 - a repeat fixture from their 2012 run to the final - and then travel to Auvergne on December 18.

While exact dates for the post-Christmas fixtures are not yet confirmed, Ulster know they will go to Exeter on the weekend of January 13.

The pool will conclude with the visit of Bordeaux, a side that was the first to come to what was then Ravenhill in the inaugural season of European competition in 1995.

Meanwhile, an official announcement is expected on Tuesday to confirm that this season's Guinness PRO12 final will take place in Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

The league's showpiece, which will be held on May 27, was hosted by the Kingspan in 2015.

• Northern Ireland are looking to secure a first ever series win over the Republic of Ireland in the 2016 rugby league State of Origin at Chambers Park in Portadown this afternoon (3.30pm kick-off).

The NI Elks enjoyed a thrilling victory in the first game last weekend when a last-gasp score produced a 34-30 win.

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