Celtic Cup (rugby union)

Last updated
Celtic Cup
Sport Rugby union
Instituted2003
Inaugural season2003–04
Ceased2004–05
Number of teams12 (2003–04), 8 (2004–05)
Nations IRFU flag.svg Ireland
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales
Holders Munster (2004–05)
Most titlesMunster
Ulster (1 title)
Broadcast partner BBC
Related competition Celtic League

The Celtic Cup was a rugby union cup competition featuring regional and provincial teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales that ran for two seasons between 2003 and 2005. The first edition of the competition was won by Ulster and the second by Munster, both from Ireland, whereafter the competition was retired. A separate competition under the same name was inaugurated in 2018 for Welsh and Irish development sides.

Contents

Formation

Following the introduction of regional rugby union teams in Wales ahead of the 2003/04 season, the format of the Celtic League tournament was changed so that each team would play each other twice, home and away, with the side that accumulated the most points during the season winning the title. This was a change from previous seasons, which culminated in a knock-out format competition leading to a final. In a bid to attract broadcasters, sponsors and the public by having a 'showpiece' final, the Irish, Scottish and Welsh unions agreed to launch a new cup competition, with a knock-out format, the Celtic Cup. [1]

2003–04 season

During the inaugural season, the competition was contested by all 12 sides that contested the Celtic League and ran concurrently with the league on four weekends between September and December 2003. The tournament was a knock-out format, played over one leg with the first team drawn in each fixture hosting the match. Due to the number of teams competing, eight teams contested the first round in mid September whilst four teams, Edinburgh, Munster, Ulster and Blues were given byes to the quarter finals to meet the victors from the first round. [2] The victorious teams from the first round were Connacht, Glasgow, Leinster and the Llanelli Scarlets.

The quarter-finals took place on the first weekend of October, with Edinburgh, Glasgow and Connacht winning their games. Ulster and Leinster drew their game 23–23 after extra time, however Ulster progressed under the competition rules as they scored three tires in the match against Leinster's two. [3] The semi-finals took place in mid November and saw both the away teams win, as Ulster beat Glasgow and Edinburgh beat Connacht. The final was held on Saturday December 20 at Murrayfield Stadium and saw Ulster beat Edinburgh 21–27 to win the Celtic Cup. [4]

 
Preliminary roundQuarter-finalsSemi-finalsFinal
 
              
 
19 September – Galway, Ireland
 
 
IRFU flag.svg Connacht 26
 
3 October – Llanelli, Wales
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Border Reivers 21
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Llanelli Scarlets 12
 
20 September – Llanelli, Wales
 
IRFU flag.svg Connacht 14
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Llanelli Scarlets 40
 
15 November – Galway, Ireland
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Newport Gwent Dragons 6
 
IRFU flag.svg Connacht 25
 
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Edinburgh 26
 
 
3 October – Edinburgh, Scotland
 
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Edinburgh 33
 
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Cardiff Blues 16
 
 
20 December – Edinburgh, Scotland
 
 
IRFU flag.svg Ulster 27
 
20 September – Bridgend, Wales
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Edinburgh 21
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Celtic Warriors 9
 
3 October – Glasgow, Scotland
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Glasgow 19
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Glasgow 18
 
 
IRFU flag.svg Munster 14
 
 
15 November – Glasgow, Scotland
 
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Glasgow 13
 
20 September – Dublin, Ireland
 
IRFU flag.svg Ulster 20
 
IRFU flag.svg Leinster 35
 
3 October – Belfast, Northern Ireland
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Neath-Swansea Ospreys 21
 
IRFU flag.svg Ulster 23 (3t)
 
 
IRFU flag.svg Leinster 23 (2t)
 
 
 
 

2004–05 season

The format of the competition was changed for the second edition of the competition. The competition was moved to April and May to run after the conclusion of the Celtic League competition, with only eight sides contesting the competition, again in a straight knockout format, however starting at the quarter-final stage due to the reduction in teams. The quarter-final fixtures were created based on the teams' finishing positions in the Celtic League, with the league winners Neath-Swansea Ospreys hosting the eighth-placed side Ulster, second-placed Munster hosting seventh-placed Edinburgh, third-placed Leinster hosting sixth-placed Glasgow and fourth-placed Newport Gwent Dragons hosting fifth-placed Llanelli Scarlets. In this way, the tournament was similar to a play-off system, although the Celtic League and Celtic Cup remained trophies in their own right.

The automatic home advantage for the highest-placed teams was not continued for the semi-finals, instead the fixtures were decided by a draw. [5] Leinster lost to Munster and Scarlets won at home against the Ospreys. The final took place on 14 May at Lansdowne Road and saw Munster beat the Scarlets by 27 points to 16 to win the second Celtic Cup. [6]

 
Quarter finalsSemi finalsFinal
 
          
 
22 April – Dublin, Ireland
 
 
IRFU flag.svg Leinster 33
 
29 April – Dublin, Ireland
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Glasgow 24
 
IRFU flag.svg Leinster 17
 
22 April – Limerick, Ireland
 
IRFU flag.svg Munster 23
 
IRFU flag.svg Munster 24
 
6 May – Dublin, Ireland
 
Flag of Scotland.svg Edinburgh 14
 
IRFU flag.svg Munster 27
 
22 April – Newport, Wales
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Llanelli Scarlets 16
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Newport Gwent Dragons 19
 
29 April – Llanelli, Wales
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Llanelli Scarlets 49
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Llanelli Scarlets 23
 
22 April – Swansea, Wales
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Neath-Swansea Ospreys 15
 
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Neath-Swansea Ospreys 23
 
 
IRFU flag.svg Ulster 16
 

Demise

Following the end of the 2004–05 season, the Welsh regions signed a deal to join the English Premiership club sides in an Anglo-Welsh Cup competition from the 2005–06 season. With clashing fixtures in the two competitions, the fallout led to the Irish and Scottish sides withdrawing from Celtic competition at the end of May. [7] Talks between the three countries in June led to an agreement to reinstate the Celtic League, but not the Celtic Cup. [8]

For the 2009–10 season, the Celtic League adopted a play-off format similar to that used for the 2004/05 Celtic Cup, with the top four placed teams in the league at the end of the season rather than eight. However the Cup moniker was not revived and the winners of the play-offs were instead crowned the overall Celtic League champions.

Finals results

2003–04

20 December 2003
14:30 GMT
Edinburgh Flag of Scotland.svg 21–27 IRFU flag.svg Ulster
Try: Webster
Lee
Blair
Con: Paterson (3/3)
Report Try: Best
Frost
Con: Humphreys (1/2)
Pen: Humphreys (5)
Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Attendance: 17,174
Referee: Nigel Williams (Wales)

2004–05

14 May 2005
17:30 IST
Munster IRFU flag.svg 27–16 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Llanelli Scarlets
Try: Horgan
O'Gara
Mullins
Con: O'Gara (3/3)
Pen: O'Gara
Drop: O'Gara
Report Try: Phillips
Con: Thomas (1/1)
Pen: Thomas (3)
Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Attendance: 11,500
Referee: Joel Jutge (France)

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References

  1. "New Celtic League format agreed".
  2. "Celtic rugby's brave new world".
  3. "Ulster earn countback win".
  4. "Ulster hold on for victory".
  5. "Cup draw disappoints the Ospreys".
  6. "Munster 27-16 Scarlets".
  7. "Celtic League season cancelled".
  8. "Welsh back in the Celtic fold". 20 June 2005.