The Irish Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union have joined forces to create a new development competition, the Celtic Cup, for the emerging professional players from the four Irish provinces and four Welsh regions.
The tournament, which features development squads from Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster, Cardiff Blues, the Dragons, the Ospreys and the Scarlets, aims to provide a learning environment for players, coaches and referees by recreating the week-to-week challenges presented by senior professional rugby.
The Celtic Cup will run over seven consecutive weeks, commencing on Friday, September 7. Teams will have to prepare for a different opposition each week, manage their physical preparation and recovery and analyse their performances as they grow as individuals and collectively.
The eight teams will be divided into two conferences of four Welsh regions and four Irish provinces. Each Irish province will play each of the Welsh regions and will play against two Irish provinces. Similarly, the Welsh regions will play each of the Irish provinces and will play two of their Welsh counterparts. The top-ranked province from the Irish conference will play the top-ranked region from the Welsh conference in the inaugural final (venue to be confirmed).