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IRFU & WRU Launch The Celtic Cup to Develop Emerging Talent

15th August 2018 By The Editor

The new pitch at Irish Independent Park is currently bedding in.

The new pitch at Irish Independent Park is currently bedding in.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have joined forces to create a new development competition – The Celtic Cup – for the emerging professional players from the four Irish provinces and four Welsh regions.

The competition which features development squads from Munster, Connacht, Leinster, Ulster, Blues, Dragons, Scarlets and the Ospreys aims to provide a learning environment for players, coaches and referees by re-creating the week to week challenges presented by senior professional rugby.

The competition will run over seven consecutive weeks commencing on the weekend of September 7/8. Teams will have to prepare for a different opposition each week, manage their physical preparation and recovery and analyse their performances as they grow as individuals and collectively.

Competition Format

The eight teams will be divided into two conferences of four Welsh regions and four Irish provinces. Each Irish province will play each of the Welsh regions and will play against two Irish provinces. Similarly the Welsh regions will play each of the Irish provinces and will play two of their Welsh counterparts. The top ranked Province from the Irish conference will play the top ranked Region from the Welsh conference in the inaugural final (venue tbc).

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, said: “The Celtic Cup will bring significant value to the development of our emerging professional players, referees and coaches and support staff. It will challenge them to perform and manage themselves within a professional competition structure throughout a week to week campaign similar to the Guinness PRO14.

“The Celtic Cup is also a fantastic vehicle for the development of our next tier of coaches who will have to take the learnings from games each week to drive performance across the competition.

“The IRFU are cognisant of the important role that our domestic club competitions play in the development of young players. The scheduling of the Celtic Cup is intended to be complementary to the club game and create a supportive season structure into the future.”

WRU Head of Rugby Performance Geraint John added: “We are excited about this new development for the performance pathway in Wales.

“The Celtic Cup will help develop players into senior professionals while also promoting and improving Welsh coaches and other performance staff such as strength and conditioning coaches, analysts and referees.

“The block programme of matches will greatly help all involved to build week to week in a professional environment and competition structure, helping to underpin the development of future regional and international players.”

Over the first six weeks of the competition from September 7 until mid October, Munster will face Connacht, Dragons and Scarlets on the new surface at Irish Independent Park with the province travelling to Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Leinster.

Week seven will see the winners of each group face off in the final.

The bedding-in process of the new modified 3G surface at Irish Independent Park is now underway with two games to be played at the venue in the Kearys Renault Series 2018 over the next 10 days.

See full details of The Celtic Cup below.

Pool 1





Pool 2






Weekend 1 – September 7th

Munster v Connacht, Irish Independent Park, KO 17.30

Ulster v Leinster, Malone RFC, KO 17.00

Ospreys v Scarlets, Brigend RFC, KO 19.00

Dragons v Cardiff Blues, Rodney Parade KO 19.15

Weekend 2 – September 14th

Ulster v Scarlets, Instonians/Cooke RFC KO 19.00

Weekend 2 – September 15th

Leinster v Cardiff Blues, Energia Park KO14.00

Ospreys v Munster, Swansea RFC KO 14.00

Dragons v Connacht, CCSE Ystrad Mynach KO 14.30

Weekend 3 – September 21st

Munster v Dragons, Irish Independent Park KO 17.30

Connacht v Ospreys, Corinthian Park KO 15.00

Weekend 3 – September 2nd

Scarlets v Leinster, Parc Y Scarlets KO 14.30

Cardiff Blues v Ulster, Cardiff Arms Park KO 14.30

Weekend 4 – September 28th

Leinster v Ospreys, Energia Park KO 19.30

Weekend 4 – September 29th

Cardiff Blues v Munster, Cardiff Arms Park KO 14.00

Ulster v Dragons, Ballymena Park KO 14.30

Scarlets v Connacht, Carmarthen RFC KO 14.30

Weekend 5 – October 5th

Munster v Scarlets, Irish Independent Park KO 19.30

Ospreys v Ulster, Swansea RFC KO 19.00

Weekend 5 – October 6th

Dragons v Leinster, CCSE Ystrad Mynach KO 14.30

Connacht v Cardiff Blues, Galway Sportsground KO TBC

Weekend 6 – October 12,13,14

Leinster v Munster TBC

Connacht v Ulster TBC

Cardiff Blues v Ospreys TBC

Scarlets v Dragons TBC

2018 Kearys Renault Series Fixtures

Friday, August 17

Munster v London Irish, Irish Independent Park, 7.30pm;

Friday, August 24

Munster v Exeter Chiefs, Irish Independent Park, 7.30pm;


Buy tickets online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices in Irish Independent Park and Thomond Park, or by calling 061 421103.


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