Belfast Telegraph

Ulster braced for double Italian test

Ulster will face a fresh challenge — and a protracted campaign — in the 2010/11 Magners League.

Next season the Celtic League will feature two teams from Italy.

Benetton Treviso and Aironi Rugby are the newcomers and Ulster will face both, home and away.

The 10th season of the tournament will see regional clubs from four nations rather than three in contention, with the new Italian pair joining Leinster, Munster, Connacht, Ulster, Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors, Cardiff Blues, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets.

After much negotiation and protracted debate the three Celtic Unions unanimously agreed to the introduction of two new Italian super sides under a four-year agreement.

Benetton Treviso will have their headquarters at Stadio Comunale di Monigo. Stadio Luigi Zaffanella-based Aironi will draw from clubs in the Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna regions. These include MPS Rugby Viadana, Banca Monte Rugby Parma, Plusvalore Gran Parma, BluGeo Colorno, Vibu Noceto, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Mantova.

David Jordan, Director of Celtic Rugby, said: “This is another massive step forward for the Magners League and follows the decision to go to a top four Play-Off system to determine our champion team. As well as providing more fixtures for the teams already involved this will also bring both a major cash injection into the competition and greater exposure across Europe. The plays-offs and the Magners League Grand Final this season has already seen a marked improvement in the competitiveness of the League.”

Belfast Telegraph

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