|Number of teams||12 (2003–04), 8 (2004–05)|
Ulster (1 title)
|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.
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.
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.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.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.
|19 September – Galway, Ireland|
|3 October – Llanelli, Wales|
|20 September – Llanelli, Wales|
|15 November – Galway, Ireland|
|3 October – Edinburgh, Scotland|
|20 December – Edinburgh, Scotland|
|20 September – Bridgend, Wales|
|3 October – Glasgow, Scotland|
|15 November – Glasgow, Scotland|
|20 September – Dublin, Ireland|
|3 October – Belfast, Northern Ireland|
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.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.
|Quarter finals||Semi finals||Final|
|22 April – Dublin, Ireland|
|29 April – Dublin, Ireland|
|22 April – Limerick, Ireland|
|6 May – Dublin, Ireland|
|22 April – Newport, Wales|
|29 April – Llanelli, Wales|
|22 April – Swansea, Wales|
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.Talks between the three countries in June led to an agreement to reinstate the Celtic League, but not the Celtic Cup.
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.
The PRO14 is an annual rugby union competition involving professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales. The league is one of the three major professional leagues in Europe, the most successful European teams from which go forward to compete in the European Rugby Champions Cup, the pan-European championship which replaced the Heineken Cup after the 2013–14 season.
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Leinster Rugby is one of the four professional provincial rugby teams from the island of Ireland and the most successful Irish team both domestically and in European competition. They compete in the Pro14 and the European Rugby Champions Cup. The team represents the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) Leinster Branch, which is one of four primary branches of the IRFU and is responsible for rugby union throughout the geographical Irish province of Leinster.
The 2006–07 Celtic League was the sixth Celtic League season and the first with Magners as title sponsor. The season commenced on 1 September and was completed on 12 May.
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The 2008–09 Celtic League was the eighth Celtic League season and the third with Magners as title sponsor. The season began in September 2008 and ended in May 2009. Ten teams played each other on a home-and-away basis, with teams earning four points for a win, and a bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a match. Losing teams also earned a bonus point if they lost by seven points or less.
The 2009–10 Celtic League was the ninth season of the league now known as Pro12 and the fourth with Magners as title sponsor. The season began in September 2009 and ended with the Grand Final on 29 May 2010. Ten teams played each other on a home-and-away basis, with teams earning four points for a win, two points for a draw and a bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a match. The losing team may also earn a bonus point if they lose by seven points or less.
The 2010–11 Magners League was the tenth Celtic League season and the fifth with Magners as title sponsor. The regular season began on 3 September 2010 and finished on the weekend of 6–8 May 2011. During these stages, each team played every other team both home and away and were awarded points according to the standard bonus point system. This was the second season to follow the play-off structure to determine the Magners League champion, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals. The winner of each semi final advanced to the Grand Final, which took place 28 May and was hosted by the team that finished highest in the table following the regular season. The title was won by Munster who defeated Leinster by 19–9 at Thomond Park.
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