The 2009/10 Magners League has all the makings of another, all-action Celtic Rugby tournament brimming with matches high in both quality and intensity between the cream of the teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
And the initiative of introducing a play-off system for the four leading sides at the end of the long haul of Magners League matches promises to produce a tremendous climax to the campaign on the last weekend of May.
Celtic Rugby Chairman John Hussey, said: "Next year will bring about the 10th season of Celtic Rugby and perhaps we haven't shouted loud enough about what has happened to rugby since the 2001/2002 campaign kicked-off.
"Our competition is now the playground of the stars of the game in the northern hemisphere - and some of the biggest names in the rugby playing world.
"The Unions have worked hard on developing the tournament, the clubs have spent millions on nurturing new talent and building better facilities and the proposition that is now offered by the Magners League is light years away from where we all started in 2001 - crowds are growing, our TV platform is building and interest in our product is racing ahead."
David Jordan, Director of Celtic Rugby, added: "When you look through the Magners League shop window you will see some of the game's greatest assets. The challenge to us this season is to ensure we make the most of them.
"Rugby in the Celtic Nations has never been on such a high, never enjoyed such success but what makes the 2009/10 season all the more appealing is that we will be ending it on an even bigger high by introducing a play-off system to find our champions.
"What we are looking for is a sell-out occasion at a venue that will deliver a great match-day experience to the players, fans, sponsors and broadcasters. Within 3-5 years I expect this event to have grown sufficiently for us to lead a loyal band of supporters to bigger venues with little or no risk of falling short of expectations.
"The introduction of play-offs will not be the only major change this season and slowly but surely, the Magners League is realising its true potential and it is certainly delivering better players to our international coaches - and hardening the teams for the big cross-border contests in Europe.
"We have a magnificent sponsor in Magners, a host of committed broadcast partners in BBC Wales, S4C and Setanta Ireland, some of the biggest brand names in world club rugby and a growing army of fans.
"The Magners League is a competition that has grown in stature and standard, is growing in credibility and which is ready to move to the next level this season. It is going to be great to watch - with a fantastic finale to come at the end of May."
Michael Merrins, Managing Director, C&C Ireland added: "As Title Sponsors we are delighted by the continued success of the Magners League and await this season with excitement and great anticipation. The introduction of the play-offs is yet another stage in the development of the league and with the calibre of players involved across all 10 teams we look forward to another season of top quality rugby. I would like to wish all the Magners League teams the best of luck for the forthcoming season."
NB. Rights free photography from today's launch is available from INPHO Photography (www.inpho.ie). Please contact email@example.com for further details or call +353 (0)1 676 4604.
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.