The road to the Guinness PRO12 Final in Dublin on May 27, 2017 begins this weekend as a new season opens up with the Ospreys at home to Zebre on Friday night.
- New Guinness PRO12 season kicks off at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night when the Ospreys play Zebre (7.35pm KO)
- All roads lead to Dublin, with Aviva Stadium hosting the final on 27th May 2017
- Ospreys go to Connacht in Rd 2 before welcoming Benetton Treviso to the Liberty in two weeks time
Last year saw an historic season where positive play was the hallmark of the Championship as the Guinness PRO12 saw the fewest penalties conceded of all three top European leagues and the tournament also registered a decade-high 602 tries in the regular season.
What's at stake
Thanks to the introduction of meritocracy, all six matches in Round 22 of the 2015/16 season had an impact on the Guinness PRO12 play-offs and qualification for the Champions Cup. No team can afford to get left behind as every one of the 132 regular-season games counts in the battle to become Guinness PRO12 champions.
Opening weekend fixtures
Friday, Sept 2: Leinster v Benetton Treviso (7.35pm); Ospreys v Zebre (7.35pm); Ulster Rugby v Newport Gwent Dragons (7.35pm).
Saturday, Sept 3: Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh Rugby (7.35pm); Connacht v Glasgow Warriors (5.15pm); Scarlets v Munster Rugby (3pm).
Ospreys v Zebre
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU, 12th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU), Gareth Newman (WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Aurwell Morgan (WRU)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
Buy tickets from www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets
- Ospreys 26-46 reversal to Ulster at Liberty Stadium in round 22 of last season’s Guinness PRO12 ended a three game winning run in the Championship.
- Ospreys have never lost at home to an Italian opponent, achieving a bonus point victory in their last six such contests and conceding just a single losing bonus point, to Zebre, in a 16-15 victory at Liberty Stadium in January 2013.
- Zebre were victorious 47-22 against Newport Gwent Dragons in Parma in round 22 of the Guinness PRO12 and are attempting to achieve successive victories in the Championship for the first time since the New Year.
- Zebre’s only victory outside of Italy in the PRO12 came on a trip to Cardiff Blues in September 2013.
- Ospreys only previous defeat to Zebre was 27-30 in Parma on 1 May 2014, whilst the Welshmen have achieved a bonus point victory on the three most recent occasions.
Top Performers in 2015/16 – Powered by Opta Statistics & SFMS
Metres gained: Tiernan O'Halloran (Connacht Rugby) 1,648
Carries: Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby) 276
Clean Breaks: Craig Gilroy (Ulster Rugby) 32
Defenders Beaten: Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby) 88
Most Tackles: Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues) 254
Most Turnovers Won: James Davies (Scarlets) 30
Try Assists: Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) & Sam Davies (Ospreys) 7 each
Top Try Scorers: Craig Gilroy (Ulster Rugby) & Matt Healy (Connacht Rugby) 10 each
Top Points Scorer: Rhys Patchell (Scarlets) 174 points
Rhino Golden Boot (accuracy for 30 or more attempts): Gareth Anscombe 81.25%
For more Opta statistics visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/powered-by-opta/
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final