Magners League rugby will be broadcast live over four successive days in the New Year when games are moved to Thursday nights as the race to reach the Play-Offs intensifies between Rounds 13-18.
The dates, kick-off times and TV arrangements for the six weekends of Magners League fixtures from 6 January-27 march, 2011 have been finalised. Due to the expansion of the league to 12 teams through the inclusion of two Italian clubs this season, competitive league matches are being played during the RBS 6 Nations period.
The Magners League has already experimented with Thursday night rugby this season when Cardiff Blues hosted Connacht on 30 September. That game, screened live on BBC Wales and RTE, attracted a crowd of 11,058.
“Due to the expansion of our league we have had to schedule fixtures during the international windows. This means that in the New Year matches in Rounds 13-18 will overlap with two of the RBS 6 Nations weekends,” explained Celtic Rugby tournament director David Jordan.
“We have endeavoured to avoid clashing with international matches at several levels (Senior, A and Under 20) and Thursday night fixtures have been selected for some teams during the additional rounds that take place over those 6 Nations weekends.
“Details for the matches to be played in Rounds 19 to 21 will be announced in early March. It is planned for there to be simultaneous kick-offs for all games in the final round over the weekend of 6/7/8 May, 2011.”
Round 13 includes a repeat of last season’s inaugural Magners League Grand Final when the reigning champions, the Ospreys, travel to the RDS to face a Leinster side they recently pipped 19-15 on home soil to move into the Play-Off Zone. That game in Dublin is on Friday, 7 January (Live on TG4 at 7.35pm).
Connacht will once again feature in a Thursday night game in Wales when they travel to face the Dragons at Rodney Parade on 6 January (Live on S4C at 19.35pm), while in Round 14 the Italian newcomers Aironi Rugby will travel to Dublin to face Leinster at the RDS on Thursday, 10 February (Live on RTE at 19.05pm).
The Scarlets will face Edinburgh at Parc y Scarlets on Thursday, 24 February (Live on S4C at 19.35pm) to kick-off Round 16. The Magners League’s extensive broadcast platform means that at this stage no fewer than 29 of the 36 fixtures in Rounds 13-18 will be broadcast live.