The famous Dudley Cup, the University trophy first contested back in the 1903/04 season, will be played for on a challenge basis from this season.
Akin to the famous Ranfurly Shield in New Zealand in which teams challenge the holders, the Dudley Cup will be contested by the University sides throughout the season in the All-Ireland League and one-off challenge games.
For the first time in the history of the All-Ireland League there are three University sides in Division 1A this season – Dublin University, UCD and UCC – while Queen’s University are in Division 2A. This weekend sees the kick-off of Division 1A and, with it, the first Dudley Cup challenge as UCD host UCC at the Belfield Bowl on Saturday.
Queen’s, who mark their 150th season, have already put forward their challenge to play the winners of this match on Friday, November 16 as part of their celebrations.
Several alumni from the University teams will be in action in Guinness PRO14 this weekend, but the evolution of the Dudley Cup marks an historic milestone in third level rugby and will bring added spice to what promises to be an exciting All-Ireland League campaign.