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.
Once again the tournament will have bonus points on offer on the same lines as last season's Pool stages of the tournament.
In addition to the four points for a win and two for a draw, teams will be awarded a bonus point for scoring four or more tries and if losing by seven points or less.
"The Bonus points system is now a tried and trusted one having been hugely successful in both Super 12 and in the English Zurich Premiership. Bonus points help produce what people want to see - fast and expansive rugby," said Keith Grainger, the Celtic League Tournament Director. "It keeps the game going right to the final whistle."
While the Celtic League prepares for its third season, the introduction of the Celtic Cup adds further spice to the domestic seasons of Munster, Leinster Lions, Ulster, Connacht, Edinburgh Rugby, Glasgow Rugby, The Borders, Cardiff Blues, Celtic Warriors, Gwent Dragons, Llanelli Scarlets and the Neath-Swansea Ospreys.
The first round of the Celtic Cup will be played on 19th and 20th September with the 20th December final being televised on BBC Grandstand.
The criteria for determining the winners of any tied match in the Celtic Cup will be: a) Ten minutes of extra time (five minutes each way) with the first team to score any point being declared the winner b) If neither team score in extra time the team who has scored most tries being declared the winner c) If the teams have scored the same number of tries than the team with the fewest red cards in the match being declared the winner d) If the teams have received the same number of red cards then the team with the fewest number of yellow cards in the match will be the winner e) If the teams have received the same number of yellow cards then the winner will be decided by the toss of a coin.