David Nucifora has reassured Ulster Bank League clubs that the new Celtic Cup competition for emerging professional players will not hamper their own seasons.

The IRFU and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have launched the new development competition for emerging professional players from the four Irish provinces and four Welsh regions.

Development squads from Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster, Blues, Dragons, Scarlets and the Ospreys will compete over seven consecutive weeks commencing on the weekend of the 7-8 September. 

The Ulster Bank League season starts on the first weekend of October.

Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, said the competition aimed to develop "our emerging professional players, referees and coaches and support staff" as they compete in an environment similar to the Guinness Pro14.

"The IRFU are cognisant of the important role that our domestic club competitions play in the development of young players," said Nucifora.

"The scheduling of the Celtic Cup is intended to be complimentary to the club game and create a supportive season structure into the future."

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.

The top ranked province from the Irish conference will play the top ranked region from the Welsh conference in the inaugural final on weekend of 21 October.


Weekend 1 – 7 September 

Munster v Connacht, Irish Independent Park, KO 17.30

Ulster v Leinster, Malone RFC, KO 17.00

Ospreys v Scarlets, Brigend RFC, KO 19.00

Dragons v Cardiff Blues, Rodney Parade, KO 19.15

Weekend 2 – 14 September

Ulster v Scarlets, Instonians/Cooke RFC, KO 19.00

Weekend 2 – 15 September 

Leinster v Cardiff Blues, Energia Park, KO 14.00

Ospreys v Munster, Swansea RFC, KO 14.00

Dragons v Connacht, CCSE Ystrad Mynach, KO 14.30

Weekend 3 – 21 September 

Munster v Dragons, Irish Independent Park, KO 17.30

Connacht v Ospreys, Corinthian Park, KO 15.00

Weekend 3 – 2 September

Scarlets v Leinster, Parc Y Scarlets, KO 14.30

Cardiff Blues v Ulster, Cardiff Arms Park, KO 14.30

Weekend 4 – 28 September 

Leinster v Ospreys, Energia Park KO, 19.30

Weekend 4 – 29 September

Cardiff Blues v Munster, Cardiff Arms Park, KO 14.00

Ulster v Dragons, Ballymena Park, KO 14.30

Scarlets v Connacht, Carmarthen RFC, KO 14.30

Weekend 5 – 5 October

Munster v Scarlets, Irish Independent Park, KO 19.30

Ospreys v Ulster, Swansea RFC, KO 19.00

Weekend 5 –  6 October

Dragons v Leinster, CCSE Ystrad Mynach, KO 14.30

Connacht v Cardiff Blues, Galway Sportsground, KO TBC

Weekend 6 – 12,13,14 October

Leinster v Munster TBC

Connacht v Ulster TBC

Cardiff Blues v Ospreys TBC

Scarlets v Dragons TBC