The Heineken Cup is starting later than the usual October kick off this season, following the conclusion of Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand. After back to back weekends in November, the tournament returns to the usual pre-Christmas weekends in December and the group stage concludes in January.
After the visit to Paris on the opening weekend, the Blues then have two home games scheduled against London Irish and Edinburgh at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday 18th November and Friday 9th December respectively. The back to back fixtures in the middle of pool stage, mean the Blues travel to play their Heineken Cup and Pro 12 rivals Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday 16th December.
The group stage will come to a close in January 2012 with an away trip to play English Premiership outfit London Irish in Round 5 and the return fixture against Racing Metro 92 on the weekend of 20/21/22 January at Cardiff City Stadium.
In the other pools, Leinster will launch the defence of their Heineken Cup crown with an away trip to Montpellier in Round 1 on Saturday, 12 November, with the French tournament debutants taking the match to Stade de la Mosson, the 32,900-capacity home of League 1 football club Montpellier HSC.
Leinster will also play a fourth tournament match at the Aviva Stadium when they meet Bath Rugby in Round 4 on Saturday, 17 December. The champions have won all three previous games staged at the home of Irish rugby beating ASM Clermont Auvergne in a Pool match and Leicester Tigers and Toulouse in the knock-out stages last season on the way to their second Heineken Cup crown in three seasons.
English champions Saracens - who will welcome South Africa's 2007 World Cup winning captain John Smit to the club in the autumn - will take their Round 3 clash with the Ospreys on Saturday, 10 December to London's Wembley Stadium.
Connacht Rugby, who join Montpellier in making their Heineken Cup debut this season, will meet Amlin Challenge Cup holders Harlequins in Pool 6 on Friday, 11 November - the opening night of the 17th season of elite European club rugby action - before welcoming four-time champions Toulouse to Galway in Round 2 on Saturday, 19 November.
Harlequins face a tough away trip in Round 4 when they take on Toulouse at Le Stadium on Sunday, 18 December.
Northampton Saints, the 2011 finalists, will also be on the road in Round 1 as they travel to Thomond Park to meet the 2006 and 2008 Heineken Cup winners, Munster in Pool 1.
Aironi Rugby, the Italian franchise set for their second season in the competition, will have home advantage when they host former double champions Leicester Tigers at Stadio Luigi Zaffanella on the opening Saturday.
Heineken Cup Pool 2 Fixtures 2011/12
Racing Metro 92 v Cardiff Blues Friday 11th November 8pm Canal +
London Irish v Edinburgh Saturday 12th November 1.30pm
Edinburgh v Racing Metro Friday 18th November 8pm
Cardiff Blues v London Irish Friday 18th November 8pm S4C
Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh Friday 9th December 8pm S4C
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues Friday 16th December 8pm S4C
London Irish v Cardiff Blues 13/14/15 January TBC
Cardiff Blues v Racing Metro 92 20/21/22 January TBC
All kick off times GMT, for fixtures in France add 1 hour for local kick off time.
QUARTER-FINALS - 6 / 7 / 8 APRIL, 2012
SEMI-FINALS - 27 / 28 / 29 APRIL, 2012
17th HEINEKEN CUP FINAL - TWICKENHAM STADIUM - 19 / 20 MAY, 2012
Full fixtures available at http://www.ercrugby.com