The start of the 2020/21 season moves a step closer today with the announcement of fixtures for the Energia Men’s All-Ireland League and Community Series.
Fixtures have been issued directly to clubs and will be available shortly at https://www.irishrugby.ie/all-ireland-leagues/men/fixtures-results/.
The action gets underway on the weekend of Saturday September 26th with the start of the Energia Community Series – a standalone competition that will pit AIL teams from within the same province against each other in league format.
Leinster, Munster and Ulster all have two conferences each based on final positions in the 2019/20 Energia All-Ireland League.
There are some novel pairings on the opening weekend where in Leinster Conference 1, Dublin sides St. Mary’s College and Clontarf meet at this level for the first time in over two years.
The top ranked Ulster teams from 2019/20 meet in their Conference 1 with Malone at home to Ballynahinch.
Connacht has a single conference of five teams, four of which are from Division 2B in the AIL. Division 2A outfit Buccaneers host Sligo while Galway Corinthians are at home to Ballina.
Teams in Munster Conference 1 range across three AIL Divisions with the likes of Division 2A outfit Cashel away to Shannon in Round 1.
Stage 2 of the season will commence from January 1st and sees the easing of travel restrictions for teams in line with the IRFU’s principles of player welfare and COVID-19 Risk Mitigation.
You can read more on the 2020/21 season outline here.
The first All-Ireland competition to commence will be the Energia All-Ireland Junior Cup on January 2nd 2021. That’s followed a week later by the return of the Energia Men’s and Women’s All-Ireland Leagues.
Teams that finished in the top two within their respective divisions in 2019/20 will be rewarded with five home games in the nine game season in 2021.
Energia Women’s All-Ireland League and Community Series fixtures are in the process of being finalised.
Greg Barrett is Chair of the IRFU’s Rugby Committee.
“Our national competitions have a regional focus in Stage 1 of the season and that brings with it unique opportunities and classic derbies,” he said.
“At the same time, clubs are returning to rugby in a safe and responsible manner and the season’s structure is an extension of that.
“Where clubs will meet again in the Energia All-Ireland League in 2021, the fixture has been reversed so we can expect a lot of clubs looking forward to returning the favour in terms of both hospitality and friendly rivalry from January onwards.”
Gary Ryan, Managing Director, Energia Customer Solutions:
“We want to commend the IRFU and the provinces for their work in making the 2020/21 season a reality.
“The aim in our first year as the power behind the Energia All-Ireland League was to connect with clubs and provide meaningful opportunity at a local level.
“Looking ahead to our second season, we want to build on that relationship with clubs and their communities. It will be very exciting to see how local action in the Energia Community Series will transition to the AIL and we’ll be there with clubs every step of the way.”