Leinster star Girvan Dempsey and Kicking Coach Richie Murphy were on hand to launch the 2009/10 Magners League in Thomond Park, Limerick on Tuesday afternoon…
This year has all the makings of another, all-action Celtic Rugby tournament brimming with matches high in both quality and intensity between the cream of the teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
And the initiative of introducing a play-off system for the four leading sides at the end of the long haul of Magners League matches promises to produce a tremendous climax to the campaign on the last weekend of May.
Celtic Rugby Chairman John Hussey, said: “Next year will bring about the 10th season of Celtic Rugby and perhaps we haven’t shouted loud enough about what has happened to rugby since the 2001/2002 campaign kicked-off.
“Our competition is now the playground of the stars of the game in the northern hemisphere – and some of the biggest names in the rugby playing world.
“The Unions have worked hard on developing the tournament, the clubs have spent millions on nurturing new talent and building better facilities and the proposition that is now offered by the Magners League is light years away from where we all started in 2001 – crowds are growing, our TV platform is building and interest in our product is racing ahead.”
David Jordan, Director of Celtic Rugby, added: “When you look through the Magners League shop window you will see some of the game’s greatest assets. The challenge to us this season is to ensure we make the most of them.
“Rugby in the Celtic Nations has never been on such a high, never enjoyed such success but what makes the 2009/10 season all the more appealing is that we will be ending it on an even bigger high by introducing a play-off system to find our champions.
“What we are looking for is a sell-out occasion at a venue that will deliver a great match-day experience to the players, fans, sponsors and broadcasters. Within 3-5 years I expect this event to have grown sufficiently for us to lead a loyal band of supporters to bigger venues with little or no risk of falling short of expectations.
“The introduction of play-offs will not be the only major change this season and slowly but surely, the Magners League is realising its true potential and it is certainly delivering better players to our international coaches – and hardening the teams for the big cross-border contests in Europe.
“We have a magnificent sponsor in Magners, a host of committed broadcast partners in BBC Wales, S4C and Setanta Ireland, some of the biggest brand names in world club rugby and a growing army of fans.
“The Magners League is a competition that has grown in stature and standard, is growing in credibility and which is ready to move to the next level this season. It is going to be great to watch – with a fantastic finale to come at the end of May.”
Michael Merrins, Managing Director, C&C Ireland added: “As Title Sponsors we are delighted by the continued success of the Magners League and await this season with excitement and great anticipation. The introduction of the play-offs is yet another stage in the development of the league and with the calibre of players involved across all 10 teams we look forward to another season of top quality rugby. I would like to wish all the Magners League teams the best of luck for the forthcoming season.”
The Magners League competition was formed in 2001/02 and consists of teams from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Magners League was played on a home and away basis in season 2003/04 for the first time.
2003/04 Llanelli Scarlets