Premiership Championship play-offs are set to be Introduced.
A championship play-off involving the top eight teams in the Principality Premiership is set to be introduced by the Welsh Rugby Union for the forthcoming 2009/10 season.
The Play Off Championship will see four rounds of games which will help create a new high-profile end of season competition which will also include the semi-finals and finals of the SWALEC and British and Irish Cups.
The play-offs will provide cutting edge competition from round one when the seventh and eighth placings will be determined leaving the six remaining teams to represent Wales in the British and Irish Cup the following season, subject to criteria.
In the new system the Principality Premiership league will be finalised by April10th before the new style Premiership Championship is played off over four rounds between the top eight clubs.
The new play-off system also means that Welsh rugby fans will now have the prospect of a fiercely competitive and intense end of season series of games from the end of April through to the end of the season in May.
The new system is expected to be ratified at a meeting of the full Welsh Rugby Union Board tomorrow night (Thursday).
In round one of the play-offs which will probably be played on Tuesday April 27 home advantage will go to the highest placed clubs.
The plan is for the quarter finals to take place on neutral grounds with venues for the quarter final play-offs to be confirmed.
The end of season action will commence on April 17th with the semi finals of the SWALEC Cup. Then comes the British and Irish Cup semis on April 24th before the first round of the play-offs on April 27th. All the end of season action will be resolved on May 23rd with the Premiership Championship Play Off final
The WRU Head of Rugby Performance and Development Joe Lydon said: "Our stated aim is to be player centred, development driven and competition supported.
"In designing this incredibly competitive end of season for the Principality Premiership Division we are certainly achieving those aims. "It all creates an edge which will ensure fierce competition and give the supporters the mouth-watering prospect of seeing some tremendous rugby action. "We have promised to drive the Principality Premiership Division forward and the league and cup structure this coming season will benefit the development of the game at the semi-professional level in Wales. "I want to thank the Principality Premiership Division clubs for embracing this challenging amount of change and helping us create something that the players and fans will enjoy being part of. "There is a lot of hard work ahead, but we have already proved that the WRU and the Premiership Division clubs can function in partnership on to meet these challenges head on." Chairman of the Premier Clubs, Chris Clarke added, "It's an exciting time for the Premier clubs at the moment. The introduction of the British and Irish Cup is warmly welcomed by the Premier Division clubs. There are six lucky clubs involved in its inaugural season and all 14 will be fighting hard throughout next season to reach the play-offs and then qualify for the British and Irish Cup." New standards of criteria for membership of the Principality Premiership Division are also being agreed and set in partnership between the league officials and the WRU. Work is also progressing towards the completion of a new Participation Agreement between the WRU and the Principality Premiership Division.
WRU TV were on hand at the launch of a major new commercial deal with WRU and Mercedes-Benz South Wales (part of the Sinclair Group), which sees the family company become an official supplier to the Welsh Rugby Union
On the back of the recent Women's Rugby World Cup, the WRU has launched a revitalised Women's and Girls domestic seasonal structure, and the future is looking bright.
Go to www.wru.co.uk/tryourgame for more information
Roger Lewis talks to WRU TV at the announcement of a new £60 million Rugby Services Agreement (RSA) which provides a new and positive contractual relationship between the WRU and its four Regions for the next six years has been agreed.
The Welsh Rugby Union has announced a major new sponsorship deal with Gullivers Sports Travel which will make the UK's leading, and longest established, multi-sport tour operator, an Official Supplier for the rest of the decade.
Having taken part in seven World Cups as a player and coach, Liza Burgess hopes to go out in style this afternoon when Wales take on Australia in the Play-off for seventh and eighth place in the Women's Rugby World Cup in Paris.