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Exciting New Competitions & Opportunities For Energia AIL
Exciting New Competitions & Opportunities For Energia AIL

Exciting New Competitions & Opportunities For Energia AIL

Exciting New Competitions & Opportunities For Energia AIL

Suttonians' Aislinn Layde and Molly Fitzgerald celebrate after their Energia All-Ireland League Women's Conference final win over Galwegians in February ©INPHO/Ben Brady

The IRFU are delighted to confirm new formats and competitions in both the Women’s and Men’s Energia All Ireland Leagues, with the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division kicking into action on the weekend of September 10, followed by round 1 in the Men’s Divisions on October 1.

The IRFU Rugby Committee agreed the season format following forums with both AIL Men’s Divisions clubs and AIL Women’s Division clubs, which took place in May.

The 2022/23 season plan outline has been shared with participating clubs, with dates and fixtures information to be completed and released in July.

IRFU Director of Rugby Development, Colin McEntee, said: “We are delighted to release some outline details for the new Energia All Ireland League season, which have been discussed with clubs.

New for this season will be an Energia All-Ireland Women’s Junior Cup, a new qualification format for the Energia All Ireland League Men’s Divisions, and the return of the Club International Series.

“In an important year for the Women’s game, which will determine the level the Ireland Women’s senior team will compete at in the new World Rugby WXV tournament, the clubs and Union worked on a new one-off season format.

“This will ensure meaningful competition for clubs, while providing Ireland with the time to focus on achieving a top three finish in the 2023 Six Nations for a place in tier one of the World Rugby WXV tournament.”

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Format:

The Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division will continue in its extended format with 10 teams participating. This will mark the second season of this format with no relegation taking place, however teams will be able to qualify for the Women’s Division from 2023/24 onwards.

Alignment of Domestic and Global Calendar In Women’s Game:

Several one-off changes will be seen at domestic and provincial level for the 2022/23 season due to World Rugby’s unified 15s calendar coming on stream in 2023.

Ireland will be participating in WXV – a new global rugby competition taking place across September and October 2023. There are three tiers to this competition – WXV1 will feature the top 3 teams in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations as well as three teams from a new cross-continent competition featuring Australia, Canada, the USA and New Zealand.

At least the top five non-qualified teams at the end of WXV 2024 qualifying will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2025.

Should Ireland finish in the top three of the 2023 W6N, they will qualify for this standalone tournament with no promotion or relegation for the first three years. WX2 and WX3 will both feature two European teams but with promotion and relegation taking place from year one.

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Season Plan:

For one season only, the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division will take place between September and December, across nine regular season games with semi-finals for the top four sides and a final to be played on the weekend of December 10.

The eight other teams will all play a final classification game on this weekend. The league will run across four blocks – the nine-game regular season will take place across three blocks of three games with a week in-between, with another break before the play-offs.

Clubs have stated a clear preference for an 18-game regular season with fixtures mirrored in the second half of the season.

In order to facilitate this, the Energia All-Ireland Cup competition will be modified for this season. It will be open to senior teams only and expanded to a multi-round format with games held between January and April, 2023.

Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship:

Similarly, the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship will be completed across four rounds, again, for one year only, taking place across January and February. There will be no crossover in terms of rounds taking place between the new club competition and the Interprovincial Championship.

New Energia All-Ireland Women’s Junior Competition:

From 2022/23 onwards, a new Energia All-Ireland Women’s Junior Cup competition will take place featuring the top eight junior clubs. Two per province will participate and the 2nd XV of current AIL Women’s Division teams will not be eligible.

McEntee explained: “The season plan is designed to ensure meaningful competition for clubs sides through the entire season, while ensuring Irish Rugby’s player pathway can funnel players through from AIL to Interprovincial competition to international rugby in a one-off format that will facilitate the changeover to World Rugby’s unified calendar.”

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions Format:

 The Men’s Divisions of the Energia All-Ireland League will continue with an 18-game regular season for all 50 teams across the five divisions. This is the preferred format as stated by clubs at the most recent AIL Men’s Divisions Forum meeting.

It is also intended to reinitiate an Ireland Club XV in 2022/23 with a Club International Series to take place in March 2023. McEntee commented:

Following feedback from our meeting with clubs, the IRFU Rugby Committee will look at reverting to pre-Covid promotion and relegation formats with up to two teams being promoted or relegated to/from each division.

“The clubs have also stated a clear preference that games and competitions featuring Men’s provincial ‘A’ sides should have a minimal impact on player availability in the Energia All-Ireland League.

“The IRFU are in ongoing discussions with all stakeholders with a view to facilitating greater alignment between clubs and provinces.”

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions Qualification:

There will be a change to the promotion play-off format for entry into Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2C. The four winning teams from the provincial qualifying leagues will be entered into an open draw and semi-finals will be played at a neutral venue.

The semi-final winners will then play in a single leg play-off final at a neutral venue for a place in Men’s Division 2C of the Energia All-Ireland League.

The team that loses the play-off final will then enter into a single-leg promotion/relegation play-off final against the team that finishes ninth in Men’s Division 2C (the 10th-placed team is automatically relegated).

While this format retains the opportunity for two junior teams to achieve senior status, it also creates an extra week in the fixture calendar for provincial junior competitions.

Key Competition Dates – 2022/23 Season:

A fixture list will be distributed to all clubs in July. Fixtures for the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations are due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Bateman Cup – 2022/23:

Semi-Finals: Weekend of January 7, 2023
Final: Weekend of February 4, 2023

Energia All-Ireland Men’s Junior Cup – 2022/23:

Round of 16: Weekend of October 29, 2022
Quarter-Finals: Weekend of November 19, 2022
Semi-Finals: Weekend of December 17, 2022
Final: Weekend of January 28, 2023

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions – 2022/23:

Round 1: Weekend of October 1, 2022
Round 2: Weekend of October 8, 2022
Round 3: Weekend of October 15, 2022
Round 4: Weekend of October 29, 2022
Round 5: Weekend of November 5, 2022
Round 6: Weekend of November 12, 2022
Round 7: Weekend of November 26, 2022
Round 8: Weekend of December 3, 2022
Round 9: Weekend of December 10, 2022
Round 10: Weekend of January 14, 2023
Round 11: Weekend of January 21, 2023
Round 12: Weekend of January 28, 2023
Round 13: Weekend of February 18, 2023
Round 14: Weekend of February 25, 2023
Round 15: Weekend of March 4, 2023
Round 16: Weekend of March 25, 2023
Round 17: Weekend of April 1, 2023
Round 18: Weekend of April 15, 2023
Play-Off Semi-Finals: Weekend of April 22, 2023
Play-Off Finals: Weekend of May 6, 2023

Energia All-Ireland Women’s Junior Cup – 2022/23:

Quarter-Finals: Weekend Of January 21, 2023
Semi-Finals: Weekend of February 18, 2023
Final: Weekend of March 18, 2023

Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Divisions Promotion Play-Offs – 2022/23:

Semi-Finals: Weekend of April 1, 2023
Final: Weekend of April 15, 2023
Promotion/Relegation Play-Off: Weekend of April 29, 2023

Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division – 2022/23:

Round 1: Weekend of September 10, 2022
Round 2: Weekend of September 17, 2022
Round 3: Weekend of September 24, 2022
Round 4: Weekend of October 8, 2022
Round 5: Weekend of October 15, 2022
Round 6: Weekend of October 22, 2022
Round 7: Weekend of November 5, 2022
Round 8: Weekend of November 12, 2022
Round 9: Weekend of November 19, 2022
Semi-Finals (Top four teams): Weekend of December 3, 2022
Finals & Classification Play-Off Finals (All teams): Weekend of December 10, 2022

Vodafone Senior Women’s Interprovincial Championship – 2022/23:

Round 1: Weekend of January 21, 2023
Round 2: Weekend of January 28, 2023
Round 3: Weekend of February 11, 2023
Round 4: Weekend of February 18, 2023

One-Off Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Cup Competition – 2022/23:

Round 1: Weekend of January 7, 2023
Round 2: Weekend of January 14, 2023
Round 3: Weekend of February 4, 2023
Round 4: Weekend of February 25, 2023
Round 5: Weekend of March 4, 2023
Round 6: Weekend of March 11, 2023
Round 7: Weekend of March 25, 2023
Round 8: Weekend of April 1, 2023
Round 9: Weekend of April 9, 2023
Finals (All teams): Weekend of April 15, 2023