Pro14: Ulster to host Scarlets on opening weekend

Stuart McCloskey
Stuart McCloskey scored Ulster's only try during their 34-10 defeat by Scarlets last February

Ulster will begin their Pro14 campaign at home to last season's beaten finalists Scarlets on 1 September.

They then welcome Edinburgh to the Kingspan Stadium the following week before travelling to take on the league's two South African sides.

The province will once again compete in Conference B, in which they finished fourth last year.

Holders Leinster begin their title defence in Cardiff while Munster and Connacht both have home fixtures.

It is unclear whether Ulster's new head coach Dan McFarland will be in position for the opening game of the season.

The Scotland forwards coach is contracted with the SRU until January 2019 although the province are hopeful that the Englishman will take up his new position before then.

If McFarland is not at Ulster for the start of the season, former Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby will take charge in the interim.

Ulster's early-season fixtures
Saturday, 1 SeptemberScarlets (h)17:15 BST
Friday, 7 SeptemberEdinburgh (h)19:35
Sunday, 16 SeptemberSouthern Kings (a)14:15
Friday, 21 SeptemberCheetahs (a)19:15
Saturday, 29 SeptemberMunster (a)19:35

The Pro14 conference line-ups remain unchanged from last term.

Ulster will be happy to move on from last season given that it was one in which inconsistent performances on the field were overshadowed by a series of personnel changes in playing and coaching staff.

Ireland internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding had their contracts revoked after they were tried and acquitted of rape.

Several of the province's longest-serving players opted to leave Ulster, as did head coach Les Kiss and his successor Jono Gibbes.

Ulster did secure a place in this season's European Cup thanks to a play-off victory over Ospreys.

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