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 Leinster, Connacht, Munster, 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 7th September. 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, commented, “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.”

Celtic Cup pools

Pool 1


Pool 2


Celtic Cup fixtures

Weekend 1

7th September

Munster v Connacht, Irish Independent Park, KO 5.30pm
Ulster v Leinster, Malone RFC, KO 5pm
Ospreys v Scarlets, Brigend RFC, KO 7pm
Dragons v Cardiff Blues, Rodney Parade, KO 7.15pm

Weekend 2

14th September

Ulster v Scarlets, Instonians/Cooke RFC, KO 7pm

15th September

Leinster v Cardiff Blues, Energia Park, KO 2pm
Ospreys v Munster, Swansea RFC, KO 2pm
Dragons v Connacht, CCSE Ystrad Mynach, KO 2.30pm

Weekend 3

21st September

Munster v Dragons, Irish Independent Park KO 17.30
Connacht v Ospreys, Corinthian Park KO 15.00

22nd September

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 7.30pm

29th September

Cardiff Blues v Munster, Cardiff Arms Park, KO 2pm
Ulster v Dragons, Ballymena Park, KO 2.30pm
Scarlets v Connacht, Carmarthen RFC, KO 2.30pm

Weekend 5

October 5th

Munster v Scarlets, Irish Independent Park KO 7.30pm
Ospreys v Ulster, Swansea RFC, KO 7pm

6th October

Dragons v Leinster, CCSE Ystrad Mynach, KO 2.30pm
Connacht v Cardiff Blues, Galway Sportsground, KO TBC

Weekend 6

12th/13th/14th October

Leinster v Munster TBC
Connacht v Ulster TBC
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys TBC
Scarlets v Dragons TBC