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Details for the Men’s and Women’s 2021/22 All-Ireland League (AIL) seasons have been announced, per Irish Rugby.
The Women’s All-Ireland League will start on the weekend of September 25th while the men’s league will kick off on the weekend of October 2nd.
The Women’s AIL will be expanded to 10 teams, as announced last year and there will be no relegation for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.
Ballincollig and Wicklow will be the new sides making their Women’s AIL debuts.
All teams will have a nine-game regular season.
The table will then be split into two – the top four will play a six-match, home and away round-robin followed by playoffs for the Women’s AIL title.
The other six teams will have a five-match round-robin, followed by playoffs for a separate trophy.
This split is only expected to occur in the 2021/22 season.
The Men’s AIL will retain the five divisions – 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2C and will have an 18-game regular reason for all 50 clubs based on the majority of clubs’ preference.
Promotion and relegation in the divisions will be reinstated.
Relegation will switch to a ‘one up, one down’ format “where any match is impacted by COVID-19.”
The IRFU Rugby Committee has agreed on a series of parameters to manage the impact of COVID-19 throughout the season, which has been shared with clubs.
Chair of the IRFU Rugby Committee Greg Barrett said in the announcement that “this is a really positive step towards meaningful rugby in the 2021/22 season and all 60 participating teams have a firm date to work towards.”
“These formats will facilitate the recovery of our clubs as we continue to calculate the cost of the epidemic to our domestic game and the rugby pathway and we remain ready and willing to adapt and evolve to ensure the long-term sustainability of our clubs.”