Then, 24 hours later, attention switches to a mouth-watering Champions Cup opener at Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium between Ulster Rugby and Wasps, which is live on BT Sport and beIN Sports.
The first-round action follows thick and fast until it closes on Sunday evening with the Northampton Saints-Saracens and Ospreys-ASM Clermont Auvergne ties in the Champions Cup.
Here we pick out some highlights ahead of a huge opening weekend.
Saracens will seek to extend their record run of consecutive European victories to 19 as they travel up the M1 to Northampton in Pool 2 on Sunday boosted by their 55-24 win over Saints on the opening day of the Aviva Premiership season.
ASM Clermont Auvergne, finalists three times in the past five years, also begin their bid to banish their ‘bridesmaid’ tag at Ospreys in Pool 2.
Toulon – winners in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – begin their campaign by hosting Guinness PRO14 champions Scarlets in Pool 5 in one of the weekend’s tastiest encounters.
Three-times winners and last year’s semi-finalists Leinster Rugby on Saturday host an all-star Montpellier line-up boasting a world-class trio of new signings in Louis Picamoles, Ruan Pienaar and Aaron Cruden.
Lyon have won six of their opening seven games to lead the TOP 14 table. Their bid to make it to the knockout rounds for the first time begins on Friday night at Cardiff Blues in Pool 2, although they will be without star No. 8 Carl Fearns who picked up a season-ending knee injury last week.
Challenge Cup holders Stade Français Paris, having started their season slowly, picked up two wins in two weeks, but will need to have their wits about them as they visit Russian side Krasny Yar in Pool 4 on Saturday.
Newcastle have enjoyed a strong start domestically and will hope to transfer that into their opening Pool 1 clash at home to Dragons, while Italian side Zebre visit Agen hoping to maintain their promising early-season momentum.