Guinness PRO12 launched

The Guinness PRO12 was launched at the Diageo Headquarters in Park Royal, London today with all 12 clubs' players and coaches in attendance.

The season will kick off next week Friday 5 September with Munster v Edinburgh Rugby and Ospreys v Treviso, while Glasgow Warriors will host last year's champions Leinster at Scotstoun, in a replay of the 2014 final on Saturday 6 September.

The other fixtures on the first weekend are Scarlets v Ulster, Connacht v Dragons and Zebre v Cardiff.

This year's Guinness PRO12 promises to have added spice with the new European competition qualification system, while 227 international players from 14 countries will also be looking to secure a place in their national squads ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

The arrival of new partners Guinness, as title sponsors and Sky Sports as broadcasters will also enrich the PRO12.

The PRO12 experienced year-on-year growth for the fifth consecutive year for both match attendance and TV audiences in 2013/14 and is set to continue with the enhanced BBC coverage on offer this season.

This season, the first 13 rounds will see at least 91% of matches broadcast live in the UK and Ireland, 50% of these matches will also be broadcast in more than one territory.

Enhanced BBC coverage...

Edinburgh Rugby’s trip to Munster in the opening round of the new Guinness PRO12 will be covered live on BBC ALBA next month – the first of 16 matches shown on either BBC ALBA or BBC Scotland between now and early January 2015.

BBC ALBA’s continued coverage of Scotland’s two premier sides will see them show coverage of 12 live and one deferred match in the first 13 rounds of the PRO12.

And this season for the first time, BBC Two Scotland will also show a number of matches live, including the New Year derby match between Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors on Friday January 2.

The BBC TWO Scotland coverage is expected to start next month with the Ospreys v Edinburgh match on Sunday September 21, with Glasgow’s visit to Treviso on October 5 also on the cards.

Coverage will continue across the BBC channels in Scotland right through the season, including the live playoffs, should either of the Scottish teams reach that stage of the tournament.

English language option on ALBA...

In addition to those live matches on BBC Two Scotland, English language viewers will also be provided with a red button option on BBC ALBA which will offer English commentaries for the BBC ALBA matches while Gaelic viewers will also have a red button option for BBC Scotland matches.

All games will either be shown on Friday evenings with 7.35pm kick-offs or on Sunday afternoons. Coverage of all matches on BBC ALBA and BBC Two Scotland will be produced by independent company mneTV.

As well as TV coverage of the Guinness PRO12 matches, Radio Scotland will add to the mix by again offering listeners live matches and reports wherever possible.