Derbies to the fore as club rugby plots return

IRFU has scheduled friendlies and localised competitive matches kicking off on September 25
Derbies to the fore as club rugby plots return

A feast of local derbies awaits All Ireland League clubs following the IRFU’s confirmation of conference line-ups for the Energia Men’s Community Series.

The Community Series was announced earlier this month as part of Irish Rugby’s 2020-21 season plan. With the Energia All Ireland League campaign not kicking off until the new year as a nine-game season with no promotion or relegation as a one-off format, the IRFU has scheduled friendlies and localised competitive matches kicking off on September 25.

Connacht will have a single conference of five AIL teams with two conferences each for the other three provinces, based on league standings at the end of 2019-20.

Energia Community Series Conferences:

Connacht (5): Ballina, Buccaneers, Galway Corinthians, Galwegians, Sligo.

Leinster 1 (9): Clontarf, Dublin University, Lansdowne, Naas, Old Belvedere, Old Wesley, St. Mary’s College, Terenure College, UCD.

Leinster 2 (9): Blackrock College, Enniscorthy, Greystones, Malahide, MU Barnhall, Navan, Skerries, Tullamore, Wanderers.

Munster 1 (8): Cashel, Cork Constitution, Garryowen, Highfield, Old Crescent, Shannon, UCC, Young Munster.

Munster 2 (7): Bruff, Clonmel, Dolphin, Midleton, Nenagh Ormond, Sundays Well, UL Bohemian.

Ulster 1 (6): Ballynahinch, Banbridge, City Of Armagh, Malone, Queen’s University, Rainey OB,

Ulster 2 (6): Ballymena, Bangor, Belfast Harlequins, City Of Derry, Dungannon, Omagh Academicals.

Clubs will also be competing for a place in the post-Christmas Bateman Cup as well a chance to qualify for newly created Bateman Plate and Shield play-offs, with semi-final places up for grabs in each.

Participating teams and conferences for the Energia Women’s Community Series are still being finalised while all 20-21 fixtures are set to be announced in the coming weeks, the IRFU said.

“Competition between provincial rivals is one of the biggest draws in club rugby and we’re excited to start our season with a national platform for these games,” IRFU Competitions Manager Kevin Beggs said.

“This season’s structure is underpinned by principles of player welfare and COVID-19 risk mitigation, but there’s still plenty of scope for meaningful competition and an exciting programme that will entice supporters back to their clubs in 2020.”

Bateman Cup semi-finals: 1st in Munster 1 v 1st in Connacht; 1st in Ulster 1 v 1st in Leinster 1

Bateman Plate semis: 2nd in Connacht v 2nd in Munster 1; 2nd in Leinster 1 v 2nd in Ulster 1

Bateman Shield semis: 1st in Munster 2 v 3rd in Connacht; 1st in Ulster 2 v 1st in Leinster 2.

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