The first-ever Big Weekend will kick-off in a showcase of rivalries new and old in the Guinness PRO12 as the best players from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales take to the field this weekend.
A number of the biggest club rugby venues in Britain and Ireland will play host to some of the most exciting match-ups in the Championship just one week before clubs from Guinness PRO12 begin their European campaigns.
Across the first five rounds of action the Guinness PRO12 has attracted more TV viewers and higher attendances than at this point last season with more exciting rugby on offer and more tries being scored.
In addition to offering rugby union fans a chance to enjoy their favourite rivalries and see new ones emerge, Martin Anayi, Chief Executive of PRO12 Rugby, explained that it was the ideal preparation for European competition.
"The Guinness PRO12 has colourful history which has entertained traditional tribal rivalries and created new ones, too, and what better way to celebrate this than by introducing our six Big Weekends,” Anayi said.
"These games mean so much to our clubs and supporters and we hope that by grouping them together before taking on Europe's elite it will ensure that the match-winning instincts of our players have been intensely honed in our Championship.
"The competition in the Guinness PRO12 has never been so intense and the performances of our clubs has caught the imagination of our fans who are turning out in greater numbers to our games and watching more of our broadcasts,” Anayi added.
The Big Weekends for the Guinness PRO12 will occur in Rounds 6, 7, 11, 12 & 20 before the grand regular season finale in Round 22, where Super Saturday will provide an enthralling fixture list as teams compete for places in the Semi-Finals and for Champions Cup qualification.
Total attendance for Rounds 1 to 5 is 208,406 which is up 4% on 2015/16
Like for Like Games comparison has seen an increase of 6.5% (up from 195,892) on 2015/16
Average audience per weekend during Rounds 1 to 4 was 451,750 which is up 22.5% when compared to 2015/16 among audiences in Ireland and Wales
Friday, October 7: Connacht Rugby v Ulster Rugby (7.35pm); Edinburgh Rugby v Benetton Treviso (7.35pm); Ospreys v Cardiff Blues (7.35pm).
Saturday, October 8: Leinster Rugby v Munster Rugby (2.05pm); Zebre Rugby v Glasgow Warriors (5.05pm Italian); Scarlets v Newport-Gwent Dragons (7.35pm)