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Ulster will bid to start Euro quest by swatting Wasps

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster will begin their 2017/18 Champions Cup campaign against Wasps in Kingspan Stadium. Last season's beaten Premiership finalists, who overcame Ulster in a pre-season friendly last week, will be back in Belfast on Friday, October 13, with the return fixture in Coventry rounding out the pool stages in the third weekend of January.

Ulster have not won their opening fixture in Europe since 2013/14, the last year they were able to make the competition's quarter-finals, so will need no reminding that the clash against Charles Piutau's old side is of vital importance.

One weekend later, they travel to La Rochelle to face last season's Top 14 surprise package.

Ulster's hosts at the Stade Marcel Deflandre could boast a quartet of former All Blacks in Victor Vito, Rene Ranger, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Jason Eaton.

After the return of PRO14 action and the November internationals, Ulster will be on the road again as they travel to the Twickenham Stoop for a meeting with Harlequins on Sunday, December 10.

The traditional back-to-back pre-festive fixtures will see the Londoners pitch up at Kingspan Stadium just five days later.

With three Christmas derbies to negotiate in between, Les Kiss's side resume European action in the new year, hosting La Rochelle before that final clash against Wasps in Ricoh Arena.

Elsewhere, Ulster fans hoping for one more glimpse of Ruan Pienaar will not have to wait too long.

The 88-times capped Springbok, who left Kingspan Stadium this summer, will have his first European match for his new side Montpellier in Dublin when the quality French outfit meet Leinster in the RDS on Saturday, October 14.

CHAMPIONS CUP FIXTURES: Ulster v Wasps, Kingspan Stadium, Friday October 13, 7.45pm; La Rochelle v Ulster, Stade Marcel Deflandre, Sunday October 22, 4.15pm; Harlequins v Ulster, Twickenham Stoop, Sunday December 10, 1pm; Ulster v Harlequins, Kingspan Stadium, Friday December 15, 7.45pm; Ulster v La Rochelle, Kingspan Stadium 12-14 January (TBC); Wasps v Ulster, Ricoh Arena, 19-21 January (TBC)

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