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Provincial academies to compete with Ireland 7s in new IRFU tournaments

The provinces’ A teams will also compete in a series of fixtures starting in September.

THE IRFU HAS confirmed that the four provincial academies will return to training on 20 July and begin preparing for a series of A fixtures and 7s tournaments that will kick-off in September.

While Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster’ senior squads returned to training last month, only a handful of academy players have been part of those pre-season programmes at the provinces’ respective training centres.

thomas-ahern-celebrates-the-final-whistle Thomas Ahern [left] be among those to return to academy training with Munster on 20 July. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The bulk of academy players will get back to collective work on 20 July to begin an eight-week pre-season.

With the Celtic Cup on hold this season, the IRFU has announced a schedule of A fixtures and 7s competitions for academy players.

There will be three rounds of inter-provincial A games in September and October, as well as three 7s tournaments in which academy selections will compete with the Ireland 7s squad.

Three further rounds of inter-provincial A fixtures have been set for December, January, and April.

Meanwhile, the IRFU says Ireland U20 fixtures will be confirmed in due course.

“As with our senior players it is important that we provide our contracted academy players with a safe and contained environment in which to re-condition after the shutdown and to prepare for a return to competitive rugby in September,” said Peter Smyth, the IRFU’s head of elite player development.

“The Celtic Cup which has provided a valuable development platform for academy players in recent years has been put on hold for this year due to COVID19.

“We have worked closely with Colin McEntee and his team to understand the opportunity for academy players in the Energia AIL this season and how that is facilitated for academy players in the provincial and national club competitions.”

The IRFU earlier confirmed the format for the 2020/21 senior club rugby campaign, which will involve a provincial Community Series from September to December and a shortened All-Ireland League campaign starting in January 2021.

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2020/21 inter-pro A/7s fixtures:

12 September 2020: A fixtures round 1

19 September: 7s tournament round 1

26 September: A fixtures round 2

3 October: 7s tournament round 2

10 October: A fixtures round 3

17 October: 7s tournament round 3

12 December: A fixtures round 4

16 January 2021: A fixtures round 5

3 April: A fixtures round 6

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Murray Kinsella

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