Play-offs set for league next season
End-of-season play-offs are to be established to determine future champions of the Magners League.
The new format, which will see the top four sides at the end of the regular league season play-off for a place in a grand final to determine the new champions, will come into place for the 2009/10 season.
Tournament director David Jordan last night said the change, which will bring the Magners League into line with the English Premiership, would bring a new dimension to the competition.
There are also plans to try to ensure the league operates in a “rhythmic” fashion.
“Celtic Rugby is always striving to align itself with other professional rugby tournaments around the world, consequently this season will be the last that the Magners League is played in its present format,” said Jordan.
“I am pleased to announce that from 2009/10 we will be introducing an end of season play-off to determine the Magners League Champions with the top four teams qualifying for the knockout stage.
“Also going forward we intend to address the irregular nature of the competition by creating a rhythmic season, achieveable as Magners League weekends will not compete with any other tournament.
“A grand final will provide a great day out for fans and commercial partners alike, the emphasis will not just be about the participating finalists but a great celebration of Celtic Rugby on and off the pitch.”
Jordan was speaking at the launch of the new campaign at the RDS yesterday, home of reigning champions Leinster.
He also highlighted the continued rise in attendances for the league. “Fans have continued to show they appreciate the rugby that is on display in our competition as, for the fourth successive season, average attendances have again risen, by 13% over the last year alone,” he added.
“Magners League teams and players also enjoyed success in other competitions last season – the RBS Six Nations Champions, Heineken Cup and Anglo Welsh Cup winners are from amongst our ranks – while the representation of capped players in Magners League games is higher than other European leagues. With the prospect of a British and Irish Lions tour at the end of the season this is the ideal time for those players to make their mark.”