The IRFU has confirmed that the 2020/2021 club rugby season will be split in two with a modified Energia All-Ireland League taking place after Christmas.

Starting on 9 January the condensed tournament 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 10-team division remains unchanged from the finishing positions of 2019-20, with no promotion or relegation in play.

Restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic will see a new 'Community Series' with competitive games played out in localised conferences from September to December, leading to silverware and a chance to play in an All-Ireland knockout series in the second half of the season.

Railway Union won the Women's AIL in 2019 (Pic: IRFU website)

The 2019/20 season was cancelled in March due to the pandemic.

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."

Meanwhile, the IRFU has confirmed that the four provincial academy squads will return to their designated High Performance Centres on 20 July. 

There will also be three interprovincial 7s tournaments in late September and early October, which will see academy selections compete with the Ireland 7s squad.