18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
The Bateman Cup was first contested in 1922 when it was donated by Robert Bateman. Lansdowne were the winners of the inaugural trophy.
The 2011/12 Ulster Bank Bateman Cup will commence shortly with the semi-finals pencilled in for Saturday, January 21, and the final scheduled for the weekend of April 28-29.
The first confirmed last-four clash is the meeting of Leinster Senior Cup champions Old Belvedere and Ulster holders Ballymena at Anglesea Road.
In the second semi-final, Munster Senior Cup champions Garryowen await the winners of the floodlit encounter between Buccaneers and Galwegians on Friday week (January 13).
Of the five aforementioned clubs, only the Light Blues of Garryowen have won the All-Ireland Cup since it was introduced in 2005.
They will be hoping to uphold Munster's fine tradition in the competition - Cork Constitution (2006 and 2010), Garryowen (2007), Shannon (2008) and Bruff (2011) have all triumped in recent years.
Ballynahinch broke Munster's stranglehold on the trophy with a stunning final victory over Cork Con in 2009.
ULSTER BANK BATEMAN CUP SEMI-FINALS:
Saturday, January 21 -
OLD BELVEDERE v BALLYMENA, Anglesea Road, 3:30 pm (late kick-off due to Leinster v Montpellier match at the RDS at 1.30pm)
BUCCANEERS or GALWEGIANS v GARRYOWEN, venue tbc, 2.30pm
(i) If teams are tied at full-time, extra-time of 10 minutes each way will be played
(ii) If still tied, the team that has scored the most tries will be the winners
(iii) If still tied, the away team will be declared the winners
Rolling substitutions will be used as per the Ulster Bank League regulations
All-Ireland Cup Champions' Roll Of Honour:
2010/11 - Bruff
2009/10 - Cork Constitution
2008/09 - Ballynahinch
2007/08 - Shannon
2006/07 - Garryowen
2005/06 - Cork Constitution