This year, the Celtic League sees a radical change in an extended format and the introduction of a new knock-out cup competition within the season. The restructuring of the Welsh club rugby skills means that this year's Celtic League takes on a new, more attractive format with all the participating teams playing one another, home and away games in an extended season that runs to May 2004.
The 11 participating teams (4 Irish provinces, 5 Welsh regionals and 3 Scottish) will also take part in an early season knockout Celtic Cup competition whose final takes place just before Christmas. In partnership with its colleague broadcasters in Scotland and Wales, TG4 has lined up a mouthwatering schedule of live Celtic rugby coverage for the coming season (full schedule details below). It starts with a mighty clash in Donnybrook on Friday 6 September - with Leinster (2001 Celtic League Champions) taking on Munster (the reigning champions).
The TG4 selection of matches for the Sept-December period features all four Irish provinces. Matches to be covered in early 2004 will be selected on the basis of League standings. Welcoming the new format, TG4 Leascheannasa , P dhraic Ciardha, said the channel had won much praise from rugby followers for its pioneering television coverage of the Celtic League over the past two seasons "Audience reaction to our coverage of League has been overwhelming," he said "and we look forward to another season of top class club rugby on TG4 over the coming months as all four Irish provinces entertain realistic hopes of success in both League and Cup.
" Once again TG4's live coverage will be provided by Nemeton, the independent production company from Waterford. The programme will be presented by Garry Mac Donncha with commentary and analysis by Eoghan Neachtain and Gear id Mac Donncha.
LIVE MATCHES ON TG4 2003-'04
5.9.03 Leinster Lions v Munster Donnybrook 7:25pm
12.9.03 Ulster v Glasgow Rugby Ravenhill 7:25pm
19.9.03 The Borders v Connacht Netherdale 7:25pm
26.9.03 Glasgow Rugby v Connacht Hughenden 7:25pm
3.10.03 CUP Quarter final - TBC Ireland TBC 7:25pm
10.10.03 Cardiff Blues v Leinster Lions Cardiff Arms Park
17.10.03 Gwent Dragons v Munster Rodney Parade
24.10.03 Edinburgh Rugby v Ulster Meadowbank Stadium
31.10.03 Neath/Swansea v Connacht Swansea
7.11.03 Leinster Lions v Llanelli Scarlets Donnybrook
14.11.03 CUP semi-final - TBC TBC
28.11.03 Ulster v The Borders Ravenhill