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IRFU confirm plan for regionalised club tournament as part of rugby's return

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Cork Con celebrating their AIL triumph last season. Photo: Sportsfile

Cork Con celebrating their AIL triumph last season. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Cork Con celebrating their AIL triumph last season. Photo: Sportsfile

Club rugby will be organised on a provincial basis until the turn of the year, with the Energia All Ireland League due back on January 9.

Before then, clubs will compete in the Community Series within their own provinces as the IRFU look to limit travel and curb exposure to covid-19 when rugby returns.

The 2019/20 season was abandoned in March and the four men's divisions will return as they were when the all-island competition gets underway after Christmas.

The union has put in place contingencies around the virus, stipulating that "where the presence of COVID-19 in a club forces the cancellation of a match in Stage 1 or Stage 2, the result shall be declared a draw and teams will be allocated two match pointseach and no score registered. No bonus points will be awarded."

The conferences will be decided on a league format, with matches running from September 26 to December 11 and the top teams will progress to the Bateman Cup which will be held after Christmas.

The regular season will then take place over nine weekends with one round of fixtures across the 10-team divisions, with semi-finals and finals at the end of the campaign, and no relegation.

Women's teams which are not part of the All Ireland League will be invited to take part in the pre-Christmas tournament, with Galwegians currently the only side from Connacht and two each from Munster and Ulster.

Meanwhile, the union has confirmed that the country's academy players will return to training on July 20.

With the Celtic Cup cancelled due to Covid-19, the four provinces will play a series of A fixtures in late September and early October, while there will also be three interprovincial Sevens tournaments in the same period.

MEN'S CONFERENCES

Connacht Conference: Ballina, Buccaneers, Galway Corinthians, Galwegians, Sligo.

Leinster Conference: Blackrock College, Clontarf, Dublin University, Enniscorthy, Greystones, Lansdowne, Naas, Navan, Malahide, MU Barnhall, Old Belvedere, Old Wesley, Skerries, St. Mary’s College, Terenure College, Tullamore, UCD, Wanderers.

Munster Conference: Bruff, Cashel, Clonmel, Cork Constitution, Dolphin, Garryowen, Highfield, Midleton, Nenagh Ormond, Old Crescent, Shannon, Sundays Well, UCC, UL Bohemian, Young Munster.

Ulster Conference: Bangor, Ballymena, Ballynahinch, Banbridge, Belfast Harlequins, City Of Armagh, City Of Derry, Dungannon, Malone, Omagh Academicals, Queen’s University, Rainey Old Boys.

WOMEN'S CONFERENCES

Connacht Conference: Galwegians and any other teams to be determined

Leinster Conference: Blackrock College, Old Belvedere, Railway Union, Suttonians Wicklow and any other teams to be determined

Munster Conference: UL Bohemian, Ballincollig and any other teams to be determined.

Ulster Conference: Cooke, Malone and any other teams to be determined.

PROVINCIAL A TEAM 2020 SCHEDULE

September 12 (PRO14 2019/20 Final Weekend): Provincial A Fixtures Rd 1

September 19 (EPCR 2019/20 Quarter-Final Weekend): Provincial 7s Tournament Rd 1

September 26 (EPCR 2019/20 Semi-Final Weekend): Provincial A Fixtures Rd 2

October 3 (PRO14 2020/21 Rd 1 Weekend): Provincial 7s Tournament Rd 2

October 10 (PRO14 2020/21 Rd 2 Weekend): Provincial A Fixtures Rd 3

October 17 (EPCR 2019/20 Final Weekend): Provincial 7s Tournament Rd 3

December 2 (EPCR 2020/21 Pool Weekend): Provincial A Fixtures Rd 4

January 16 (EPCR 2020/21 Pool Weekend): Provincial A Fixtures Rd 5

April 3, 2021 (EPCR 2020/21 Quarter-final Weekend): Provincial A Fixtures Rd 6

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