Having firmly established the Magners League as one of the most exciting and competitive leagues in world rugby, the task ahead of us this coming season, along with our sponsor Magners Irish Cider, is to build upon that success.
"Fans have continued to show they appreciate the rugby that is on display in our competition as, for the fourth successive season, average attendances have again risen, by 13% over the last year alone. Aligned to TV, radio and website audiences, more fans then ever before are enjoying Magners League rugby.
"Magners League teams and players also enjoyed success in other competitions last season - the RBS Six Nations Champions, Heineken Cup and Anglo Welsh Cup winners are from amongst our ranks - whilst the representation of capped players in Magners League games is higher than other European leagues. With the prospect of a British and Irish Lions tour at the end of the season this is the ideal time for those players to make their mark.
"Celtic Rugby is always striving to align itself with other professional rugby tournaments around the world, consequently this season will be the last that the Magners League is played in its present format. I am pleased to announce that from 2009/10 we will be introducing an end of season play-off to determine the Magners League Champions with the top four teams qualifying for the knockout stage. Also going forward we intend to address the irregular nature of the competition by creating a rhythmic season, achievable as Magners League weekends will not compete with any other tournament.
A Grand Final will provide a great day out for fans and commercial partners alike, the emphasis will not just be about the participating finalists but a great celebration of Celtic Rugby on and off the pitch. The Magners League is one of the leading competitions in world rugby, and I would like to thank our title sponsor, Magners Irish Cider, for their continued support of the tournament."
Maurice Breen, Marketing Director, Magners added:
"As Title Sponsors we are delighted by the success of the Magners League. The tournament continues to develop both on and off the field and we are looking forward to another season of thrilling, quality rugby involving all Magners League teams. We are obviously excited about the introduction of the play-offs and look forward to continuing to work alongside Celtic Rugby in developing the tournament. This development is yet another illustration of the increasing status and profile the Magners League is enjoying within world rugby. Finally I would like to wish all the Magners League teams the best of luck for the forthcoming season. "