Celtic Rugby has announced that it is adopting an innovative points system for the 2005/06 Celtic League tournament.
Designed to address the imbalance in the league table caused by having an uneven number of teams in the competition, the scheme awards 4 league points to the side having a weekend free from scheduled fixtures.
Each team will have two free weekends during the season which, when taken, will be recorded in an extra column in the league table denoted as 'FW' and added into the total number of games played for the relevant side.
This will mean that for the first time since the league was reduced to eleven teams there will be a truer reflection of actual league placings, especially on the run in to the end of the season.
Tournament director David Jordan stated: "Celtic Rugby has been concerned with the lopsided nature of an 11 team league table. We took a look at the way other major sporting leagues throughout the world with an uneven number of competitors operated and discovered that the Australian Rugby League cured their similar problem with the introduction of 2 points for a bye week.
"After much deliberation we decided this was the correct route to adopt for the Celtic League for the forthcoming season."
Three of the provinces are in action this coming weekend - the first of the new Celtic League season. Munster kick start things against the Border Reivers on Friday (kick-off 7.10pm, Thomond Park). While Ulster are idle, Connacht welcome Cardiff Blues to the Sportsground on Saturday (2.30pm), and Leinster travel to meet last season's winners, the Ospreys, at their new Morfa Stadium on Sunday (5.10pm).