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.
Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.
A joint venture between the WRU and Admiral saw hundreds of children enjoy the Admiral Festival of Rugby held at the National Centre of Excellence at the weekend where Welsh internationals Sam Warburton, Scott Williams and Rob Evans were in attendance.
Wll Jones leads Wales U18s into battle this afternoon against Italy where the Welsh side will be seeking to bounce back from their narrow defeat to SA Schools in their opening clash of the U19 International Series
All four regions attended a successful training camp staged last weekend at the WRU National Centre of Excellence. It was a chance for new Wales Women's head coach Rowland Phillips to deliver his key messages to players and coaches as he prepares for the new season.
Wales U18 Team Manager Gethin Watts believes the next couple of weeks will be 'extremely beneficial' to the future of Welsh rugby as his side prepare to take part in the Under 19 International Series being staged in South Africa.
The WRU is searching for 12 new rugby development apprentices following a successful first year of its WRU Coach Core programme. Craig Duncan and Jess Hancock have flourished in the first year of the programme which has given them a real direction in their lives.
The WRU signed TV comedian Rhod Gilbert up to a 'Coaching Children Level 1' course before letting him loose on an U8s side at Whitland Junior Borderers - we went behind the scenes to film the making of 'Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience' see the results here.
Llandovery are aiming to make it three titles in a row in this year's Foster's National 7s being held at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 28 August. Drovers assistant coach Simon Davies and Lee Rees assess their sides chances
A pioneering strength and conditioning programme has been delivered to more than 8000 boys and girls at hub schools throughout Wales this season, helping to develop stronger, more flexible athletes for rugby and other sports.
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series returns to the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on July 22nd when all four Welsh regions go head to head. Scarlets skills coach Dai Flanagan and Blues Elite Performance Pathway Manager Richard Hodges along with current Welsh squad members were at the launch of this season's event