Ulster face French new boys in European Rugby Champions Cup opener
As was the case last season, Ulster will begin their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign away from the Kingspan Stadium when, this time, they face their opener at French newcomers Oyonnax on Saturday November 14 (kick-off, 3.00).
Should they safely negotiate this first Pool One hurdle - leaving aside last season's painful visit to Toulon, Ulster have managed wins in France in recent seasons at Castres and most notably Montpellier - Neil Doak's squad then have two home games coming their way when they clash with Saracens and Toulouse on the favoured Friday night slots.
Ulster welcome their former coach Mark McCall's Saracens back to Belfast in round two on Friday, November 20 (kick-off 7.45) before hosting four-times winners Toulouse for the first of their key back-to-back clashes on Friday, December 11 (kick-off 7.45) and then hitting the road to southern France for the return fixture on Sunday, December 20 (kick-off 3.00 GMT). Only the dates and kick-off times of the first four rounds of the competition were announced yesterday with Ulster's meeting with Saracens at Allianz Park scheduled to take place on the weekend of January 15-17 and the final pool game being held when Oyonnax come to the Kingspan at some point on January 22-24 with all dates to be confirmed after round four has been completed.
Should Ulster be in with a shout of qualifying from Pool One as they enter the final round of games, then hosting Oyonnax for that last game could prove very useful indeed and especially so if the French side arrive in Belfast with nothing to play for.
Ulster's home matches will be shown on BT Sport, with the away games being covered by Sky.
Ulster's European games: Sat Nov 14, Oyonnax (a) (k-o, 3.00); Fri Nov 20, Saracens (h), (7.45); Fri Dec 11, Toulouse (h), (7.45); Sun Dec 20, Toulouse (a), (3.00); Jan 15-17, Saracens (a) and Jan 22-24, Oyonnax (h) times and dates to be confirmed.