- Unions release dates and format of 2014-15 British and Irish Cup
- Competition will move from 24 teams to 20
Photo: RFU Archive
The 2014-15 British & Irish (B&I) Cup structure and fixture dates were today unveiled.
Following discussion among all four Unions, four Principality Premiership teams will continue to represent Wales in the competition, joining the 12 clubs of the Greene King IPA Championship as well as four provincial teams from Ireland.
Due to changes in the competition dates for the forthcoming season, the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) has confirmed that Scottish clubs will not participate in the 2014-15 competition. As a result, this season's competition will move from 24 teams to 20, playing in five pools of four.
RFU Professional Rugby Director Rob Andrew said: “The revision to the British & Irish Cup structure reflects a desire to bring forward the competition knock-out stages, thereby creating its own window within the season with a fitting and unencumbered climax. It allows for less congestion and conflict during the business end of the league season.
“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of all participating Unions, that requirement could not be accommodated by the SRU, due to the impact it would have on their own domestic calendar. As such, the British & Irish Cup will continue with teams from the remaining three Unions next season.
“We would like to thank the SRU for their involvement in the competition since its formation in 2009. The British & Irish Cup has produced some thrilling, cross-border rugby rivalry and while we regret the loss of Scottish participation, the organising committee is confident in the high level of competition between the Championship, Welsh and Irish teams and we will continue to explore ways to help grow the competition.”
Colin Thomson, Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Operations, said: “Our negotiations around the format of the B&I Cup fixtures for season 2014-15 have now been completed.
“This has been a difficult and protracted process and we have done everything in our power to try to influence a solution that would meet the needs of all participants. Regrettably this has not been achieved and the B&I Cup pool dates have been set for two blocks of three fixtures either side of the Autumn International window. Given this, we simply could not support six B&I Cup games in the first half of the season as this would have a significant impact on the integrity of our own BT Premiership competition.
“Scottish Rugby will continue to work with its clubs to find suitable cross-border opportunities.”
The pool groupings and full fixture list for the 2014-2015 British & Irish Cup will be released in due course.
2014-15 British & Irish Cup structure
- 12 Greene King IPA Championship clubs
- Four Welsh Principality Premiership clubs
- Four Irish provinces – Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster Ravens
- Taking place on October 11, 18, 25, November 29 and December 6, 13, 2014
- Five pools of four playing home and away
- Four points for a win, two for a draw, one bonus point for a) scoring four or more tries and/or b) losing by seven points or less
- Taking place on January 24, 2015
- Top side in each pool progress to knock-out stage, plus three best runners-up
- Eight quarter-finalists ranked with teams ranked 1-4 having home advantage
Semi-finals and final
- Four winning quarter-finalists progress to semi-final draw, which takes place on weekend of March 13/14/15, 2015
- Winning semi-finalists progress to final to take place on weekend of April 3/4/5, 2015