Celtic League season cancelled
May 31, 2005

The Irish Rugby Football Union has today announced the cancellation of the 2005-6 Celtic League season following talks with the Welsh Rugby Union.

The move comes after the WRU agreed to participate in the Anglo-Welsh Cup - a new competition which replaces the Powergen Cup but which clashed with the proposed schedule for Celtic League.

The IRFU, together with the Scottish Rugby Union, still hope to revive the competition with the inclusion of Italian representatives for the 2006-7 season.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Celtic League Association in London today, where the WRU confirmed they had signed an agreement for the Anglo-Welsh Cup with the Rugby Football Union.

An IRFU spokesman said: ``As a consequence, it has not been possible to construct a mutually acceptable Celtic League competition for season 2005-06.

``The Scottish and Irish rugby unions are disappointed that the Welsh Rugby Union did not consult its partners in the Celtic League prior to making commitments to the Anglo-Welsh Cup, given the serious negative consequences it has on the Celtic League.

``It is hoped that discussions may continue between the Irish, Scottish and Welsh rugby unions along with the Italian Rugby Federation to structure a new competition in season 2006-07 which would incorporate four Irish teams, three Scottish teams, four Italian teams and four Welsh teams.''

In the meantime, the Irish and the Scots will compete in a cross-border competition starting in September.

It is proposed that this will be a 12-game, home and away league competition with qualification for Europe and a cup competition.

Today's events drew a withering response from the Welsh, with WRU group chief executive David Moffett telling BBC Sport Online: ``The decision by Ireland and Scotland smacks of childishness and I can't understand it.

``We told them that we had signed up to the Anglo-Welsh Cup, but also that the Celtic League was our most important competition and that we remain totally committed to it.

``Whether Italy came in and we played the league home or away, or they stayed out and it remained home and away, we felt we could accommodate the cup tournament.

``You have to feel sorry for Irish and Scottish rugby supporters.

``Given the state of their rugby on and off the field, I'd have thought Scotland would do everything in their power to play in a meaningful tournament.

``This seems a final decision from them over the Anglo-Welsh issue, but I'm always hopeful and we'll see what happens in the next few days.''

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