IRFU publish plan for club competitions next season
IRFU club competitions for the 2020/21 season have been modified for the forthcoming season to focus on player welfare and Covid-19 risk mitigation.
The season will be split into two stages – Stage 1 will keep all friendlies and competitive matches localised between September and December 2020; and Stage 2 will see a reformatted Energia All-Ireland League commence in January.
The Energia All-Ireland League element has a start date of January 9, 2021.
It will consist of a nine-game league season with semi-finals and finals in all men’s and women’s divisions.
The size and make-up of each ten-team division remains unchanged from the finishing positions of 2019-20.
As it is a truncated format, no promotion or relegation will take place.
To ensure competitive rugby in Stage 1, all AIL clubs will compete in the Energia Community Series run across newly formed localised conferences.
Success in these conferences will bring with them both silverware and the chance to qualify for knockout rugby at an All-Ireland level in Stage 2 of the season.
Detail in full, including player welfare principles, can be accessed at: https://bit.ly/ClubReturnToRugby.
Introducing the document, IRFU Rugby Committee Chair Greg Barrett said: "Our Return To Rugby Guidelines For Clubs mapped out a ‘safety first’ approach for clubs and we continue to be guided by this and the work of IRFU Medical Director Rod McLoughlin as we build towards a resumption of competitive rugby in 2020.
"While there are many factors which helped shape this season outline, you will see that player welfare and Covid-19 risk mitigation are by far the biggest consideration.
"We are also hopeful that a focus on keeping rugby at a localised level in the first stage of the season brings with it an opportunity for clubs to re-energise their membership."