Guinness Pro14 Chief Executive Martin Anayi has confirmed that the league’s two conferences will be the same in 2018/19 as they were last season, with a review expected next summer.
In a wide ranging interview with WalesOnline’s Simon Thomas, Anayi stated “it will be the same two conferences, with teams playing the other sides in their section home and away and then teams from the other conference either home or away. The one change is we will reverse the cross-conference fixtures.”
With that information now known, it means that we can confirm that the Pro14 conferences will again line-up as;
Conference A: Munster, Connacht, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys, Glasgow, Cheetahs, Zebre
Conference B: Leinster, Ulster, Scarlets, Dragons, Edinburgh, Kings, Benetton
It also means that, although the fixtures have not yet been confirmed, we can now have a look at what games Cardiff Blues will have to play this season, as we no longer play every team in the league home and away.
John Mulvihill’s men will play each team in conference A home and away, as well as both Scarlets and Dragons home and away in conference B. However, our fixtures against the other teams in the other conference will look like this;
Leinster (H), Ulster (A), Edinburgh (A), Kings (H), Benetton (A)
All in all it feels like the same tough challenges just in different places. Avoiding the Royal Dublin Showground and having the Kings over to the Arms Park is a positive, but we now have two tricky Italian trips and have to head to face resurgent sides at Murrayfield and Ravenhill, respectively.
It does mean that we have one less home game than last year though, with Cardiff Blues only welcoming nine sides to the Arms Park when you subtract the Judgement Day game.
Anayi confirmed that the fixtures will be confirmed in mid-July, as is the precedent before last season, so keep an eye out late next week or early the week after, with the Heineken Cup fixtures set to follow about two weeks later.
He also covered a wide range of other topics including referees, further expansion of the league and the new TV rights deal.