Northampton start Heineken Cup bid with trip to Munster

Stephen Myler (left) gets to grips with Isa Nacewa
Northampton led 22-6 before losing last year's final to Leinster

Heineken Cup runners-up Northampton face a daunting trip to two-time champions Munster on the opening weekend of the 2011/2012 campaign.

The elite European competition starts on Friday, 11 November - less than three weeks after the World Cup final.

Cardiff Blues travel to Racing Metro and Harlequins host debutants Connacht.

The following day sees Saints tackle Munster at Thomond Park and champions Leinster launch the defence of their title away at French side Montpellier.

The Top 14 finalists have confirmed the fixture will be moved to the city's 32,900-capacity Stade de la Mosson, home of the city's Ligue 1 football club.

Leinster, who came from 22-6 down to beat Northampton 33-22 in a remarkable final in May, have scheduled their round four fixture against Bath for Dublin's Aviva Stadium, scene of their quarter-final and semi-final victories over Leicester and Toulouse last season.

Aviva Premiership champions Saracens, who open their campaign at home to Benetton Treviso, have confirmed they will tackle Welsh region Ospreys at Wembley Stadium on 10 December.

Kick-off times for the final two rounds are yet to be confirmed. The fixtures are a reversal of the opening two weekends.

The 17th Heineken Cup final will be staged at Twickenham on 19 or 20 May.

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