Irish bid to extend the Celtic Cup

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The Irish Rugby Football Union have made an official offer to the Welsh Rugby Union to extend the Celtic Cup after a successful first campaign earlier this season.

Leinster A were named the inaugural champions after defeating Scarlets A in the Final, after they had topped the Irish and Welsh conferences respectively.

Teams played all four teams in the opposite conference, as well as two teams in their conference, to play six games in total during September and October, with Cardiff Blues A finishing second in the Welsh conference, just a single point behind Scarlets A.

Richie Rees and T Rhys Thomas were given the opportunity to head up the coaching team, with the squad largely made up of fringe first team players and academy members, supplemented by senior players returning from injury and a few Cardiff RFC players gaining professional experience.

Now the IRFU want to lengthen the competition though, making it closer to a season long event giving the young players regular exposure to professional level rugby and the chance to fast opposition from other countries.

Ethan Lewis Cardiff Blues A team
Cardiff Blues A was a youthful team with an experienced spine

There is a possibility the Scottish Rugby Union may come on board as part of this competition expansion, with the announcement of their new ‘Super 6’ semi-professional competition season structure including “eight cross border matches” with discussions around this ongoing.

The difficulty next season will be when the Celtic Cup actually takes place, with the Rugby World Cup being staged over September and October next season leaving the Pro14 sides having to use players that would have played for their A sides in the first team.

It has been suggested that the Celtic Cup will run from March to May following the Six Nations 2020, with a competition spanning more of the season beginning in the 2020/21 season, although any expansion could hinge on how the Welsh sides structure their funding as part of Project Reset.

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