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Changes To Energia All-Ireland League Promotion/Relegation For 2021/22

Changes To Energia All-Ireland League Promotion/Relegation For 2021/22

Dublin University centre Gavin Jones passes the ball during their Division 1A encounter with Young Munster at College Park last Saturday ©INPHO/Tom Maher

In June 2021, a series of measures were announced to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the running of the Energia All-Ireland League for the 2021/22 season.

These included:

  • Switching to a ‘one up, one down’ form of promotion/relegation where any match was cancelled due to the impact of Covid-19
  • A Covid-19 Fixture Impact Submission process for teams with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19
  • Changes to All-Ireland League regulations for 2021/22, including no re-fixing of games cancelled due to Covid-19 impact

There have been eight games cancelled to date because of Covid-19 impact across the men’s divisions of the 2021/22 Energia All-Ireland League.

96% of men’s games were cleared to go ahead. Two games in the women’s division of the Energia All-Ireland League were cancelled due to Covid-19 with a 95% clearance on games.

What happens if a game is cancelled due to the impact of Covid-19?

Where a game has been cancelled due to the impact of Covid-19, a 0-0 scoreline is applied and each team is awarded two points. The game is not replayed.

What is the process for cancelling games due to Covid-19?

Teams with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 must submit a Covid-19 Fixture Impact Form. Details of cases are provided along with any medical advice or instructions from public health received by the team. Follow-up calls are made with the team to clarify and confirm details.

In certain situations, cases can arise at short notice without a proper time frame for Public Health instruction. When this happens, a contingency plan led by the IRFU Medical Director is implemented and a decision is made by the IRFU.

In some cases, a working group may meet to evaluate and determine if a game should proceed or not. The group comprises of: Director of Rugby Development; Chair of National Competitions Committee; Chair of Rugby Committee; Rugby Competition Manager.

Clubs do not have the authority to cancel an Energia-All-Ireland League match.

How is promotion/relegation in the men’s divisions of the Energia All-Ireland League affected?

Automatic promotion/relegation for the AIL men’s divisions no longer applies to the 2021/22 season. The following information is included in Appendix 3 of All-Ireland League Regulations for 2021/22.

Relegation (From Division 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 2C):

  • One team from each men’s division will be relegated
  • Teams that finish 9th and 10th will play off over two games (home and away)
  • The team with the lowest aggregate points will be deemed relegated

Promotion (To Division 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B): 

  • The play-off format for the top four in Division 1A for the All-Ireland League title remains unchanged
  • One team each from Division 2C, 2B, 2A and 1B will be promoted via a four-team knockout play-off as follows:
    • Semi-Final 1: 1st v 4th (1st at home)
    • Semi-Final 2: 2nd v 3rd  (2nd at home)
    • Final: Home advantage to highest-ranked team

Promotion To Division 2C:

  • One team will be promoted to Division 2C
  • This will be via a knockout play-off of the four provincial qualifying leagues (Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster)
  • Semi-finalists will be paired via an open draw
  • Semi-finals will take place on the same day
  • Semi-finals and final will all take place at neutral venues

Are women’s divisions affected by changes to promotion/relegation? 

No. Promotion/relegation for the expanded women’s division of the AIL has been ring-fenced until the end of the 2022/23 season.