The Women’s AIL Cup gets underway this weekend with a new look Round Robin format introduced which will see 26 teams compete across six pools.

Pool A features Blackrock RFC, St Mary’s College RFC, Queens University Belfast, Belfast Harlequins RFC and Enniskillen RFC

Pool B consists of Old Belvedere RFC, Cooke RFC, Railway Union and Navan RFC. 

Pool C is made up of Port Laoise RFC, Cill Dara RFC, Carlow RFC, Rathdrum RFC and New Ross RFC.

Pool D contains Galwegians RFC, Sligo RFC, Edenderry RFC and Buccaneers RFC

Pool E features UL Bohemians RFC, Young Munster RFC, Nenagh Ormonde RFC and Shannon RFC

Pool F contains Highfield RFC, Tralee RFC, Ballincollig RFC and Fermoy RFC.

Defending champions Highfield begin their Cup defense at home to Ballincollig this Sunday while last year’s beaten Cup finalists UL Bohs are at home to local rivals Shannon.  Old Belvedere, who sit atop of the Womens AIL Div 1 begin their Cup campaign by hosting Navan at Anglesea Road.

Nora Stapleton, Women’s and Girls’ Rugby Development Executive at the IRFU, commented, The Cup competition runs over the course of the Six Nations and so many of these teams will lose some of their best players to International duty. The new format increases the number of competitive games played which will aid in player development.  The multi-level structure also enables teams to compete for silverware against sides of a similar standard after the initial round robin phase. The Cup competition is always exciting as more often than not, teams can cause an upset by beating the leaders in AIL Division 1.”

The winners and runners-up from Pools A and C will advance to the quarter-finals of the cup as both pools contain 5 teams.  The winners of Pools B, D, E and F will also advance to the Cup quarter-finals with lesser ranked teams then qualifying for Plate, Shield and Bowl competition quarter-finals.  The final fixtures of the Round Robin phase are scheduled to be completed by the 16th February.   The Cup Quarter Finals will take place on the 23rd of February, Semi’s on the 2nd March and the finals will take place on the 16th March.

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