The AIB League returns to full action this weekend and there is an added incentive for the clubs in Division One with the announcement that the AIB League's top flight play-off champions for this season will be entered as Ireland's representatives in the Languedoc-Roussillon amateur rugby tournament.
The tournament, the brain-child of the local region, is being organised to celebrate France's hosting of the Rugby World Cup.
It will take place in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France from September 3-15 during next year's World Cup and will consist of six competing teams. These will include amateur representative club sides from the Languedoc-Roussillon region itself, Ireland, Tucuman (Argentina), Romania, Catalonia (Spain) and England's Cambridge University.
The club side that wins the Division One play-off final next May will automatically go forward to represent Ireland with a squad selected from their club. The team will be wearing AIB jerseys which will feature their own club crest in an agreed position, and all travel and participation costs for the tournament will be covered by the IRFU and AIB.
The Languedoc-Roussillon region is one of the heartlands of French rugby and is home to some of the great clubs of both the past and present such as Toulouse, Montpellier, Beziers and Narbonne.
The tournament will have four days of competition on September 4, 7, 11 and 14, with the final day of games taking place in Montpellier.
Maurice Crowley, the AIB's General Manager, said: "We are delighted to give our support to the winners of the AIB League Division One play-off who will be representing Irish club rugby in the tournament. This is another exciting addition to the amateur club scene during next year's Rugby World Cup and I am sure it will be a wonderful occasion for the side who travels to take part."
IRFU President Peter Boyle said: "This news is another shot in the arm for the clubs in the AIB League and represents a real goal in addition to the honour of winning the Division One play-off title. I wish all the teams the best for the rest of the season in pursuit of these goals."