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 10th followed by Round 1 in the Men’s Divisions on October 1st.
The IRFU Rugby Committee agreed the season format following forums with both AIL Men’s Division 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 Division and 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, USA and New Zealand. At least the top five non-qualified teams at the end of WXV 2024 qualifying for the tournament.
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 competition 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 10th.
The eight other teams will all play a final classification game on this weekend. The league will run across four blocks – the 9-game regular season will take place across three blocks of three games with a week in-between, with another break before the playoff games.
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.
“The season plan is designed to ensure meaningful competition for clubs sides through the entire season,” said McEntee, “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 Division Format:
The Men’s Division of the Energia All-Ireland League will continue with an 18-game regular season for all 50 teams across five divisions. This is the preferred format as stated by clubs at the most recent AIL Men’s Division 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.
Colin 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 Division Qualification:
There will be a change to the promotion playoff format for entry into the Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division. 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 winning semi-finalists 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 playoff final will then enter into a single-leg promotion/relegation playoff final against the team that finishes 9th 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.
A fixture list will be distributed to all clubs in July 2022. 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: W/E of January 7th 2023
Final: W/E of February 4th 2023
Energia All-Ireland Men’s Junior Cup 2022/23:
Round of 16: W/E of October 29th 2022
Quarter-Finals: W/E of November 19th 2022
Semi-Finals: W/E of December 17th 2022
Final: W/E of January 28th 2023
Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 2022/23:
Round 01: W/E of October 1st 2022
Round 02: W/E of October 8th 2022
Round 03: W/E of October 15th 2022
Round 04: W/E of October 29th 2022
Round 05: W/E of November 5th 2022
Round 06: W/E of November 12th 2022
Round 07: W/E of November 26th 2022
Round 08: W/E of December 3rd 2022
Round 09: W/E of December 10th 2022
Round 10: W/E of January 14th 2023
Round 11: W/E of January 21st 2023
Round 12: W/E of January 28th 2023
Round 13: W/E of February 18th 2023
Round 14: W/E of February 25th 2023
Round 15: W/E of March 4th 2023
Round 16: W/E of March 25th 2023
Round 17: W/E of April 1st 2023
Round 18: W/E of April 15th 2023
Play-Off Semi-Finals: W/E of April 22nd 2023
Play-Off Finals: W/E of May 6th 2023
Energia All-Ireland Women’s Junior Cup 2022/23:
Quarter-Finals: W/E Of January 21st
Semi-Finals: W/E of February 18th
Final: W/E of March 18th
Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division Promotion Playoffs 2022/23:
Semi-Finals: April 1st 2023
Final: April 15th 2023
Promotion/Relegation Playoff: April 29th 2023
Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division 2022/23
Round 1: W/E of September 10th 2022
Round 2: W/E of September 17th 2022
Round 3: W/E of September 24th 2022
Round 4: W/E of October 8th 2022
Round 5: W/E of October 15th 2022
Round 6: W/E of October 22nd 2022
Round 7: W/E of November 5th 2022
Round 8: W/E of November 12th 2022
Round 9: W/E of November 19th 2022
Semi-finals: (top four teams): W/E of December 3rd
Finals and Classification Playoff Finals (all teams): W/E of December 10th
Vodafone Senior Women’s Interprovincial Championships 2022/23:
Round 1: W/E of January 21st 2023
Round 2: W/E of January 28th 2023
Round 3: W/E of February 11th 2023
Round 4: W/E of February 18th 2023
One-Off Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division Cup Competition 2022/23:
Round 1: W/E of January 7th 2023
Round 2: W/E of January 14th 2023
Round 3: W/E of February 4th 2023
Round 4: W/E of February 25th 2023
Round 5: W/E of March 4th 2023
Round 6: W/E of March 11th 2023
Round 7: W/E of March 25th 2023
Round 8: W/E of April 1st 2023
Round 9: W/E of April 9th 2023
Finals (All teams) Weekend of April 15th