Photo: World Rugby
The Celtic Challenge tournament is set to return for its second installment, spanning an extended 11-week period from 18 December 2023 to 3 March 2024.
As a collaborative effort by the IRFU, Scottish Rugby, and WRU, fortified by financial backing from World Rugby, this cross-border club competition aims to elevate the women's game, acting as a stepping stone toward the Women's Rugby World Cup 2025.
An expanded Women's Celtic Challenge will kick off in December, featuring two Irish teams for the second edition of the tournament ⬇️#IrishRugby
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) November 20, 2023
Building on the success of its pilot in January and February of the current year, the Celtic Challenge is undergoing expansion. The competition will now feature six (instead of three) teams across Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. This expansion not only facilitates an increase in fixtures but also nurtures more competitive game time, offering players a chance to represent their countries of origin, a move pivotal for fortifying the international game.
The tournament serves as a crucial high-performance platform, strategically positioned ahead of the TikTok Women's Six Nations. Its overarching goal is to bridge the gap between the domestic and international women's games in the Celtic nations, providing a vital developmental avenue for aspiring players.
Beyond player development, the Celtic Challenge contributes to the growth of club depth off the field. It opens doors for coaching, medical, strength and conditioning, and operational teams to hone their skills and broaden their experience.
Sally Horrox, Chief of Women's Rugby at World Rugby, expressed enthusiasm about the tournament's positive impact saying, “The feedback from the inaugural year of the Celtic Challenge has been overwhelmingly positive and it's been impressive to see 24 players already going on to compete in the Women’s Six Nations, who might not have had the opportunity otherwise.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the competition grow as more teams compete, we strengthen our pathways and increase competitiveness on the road to the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2025.”
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 20, 2023
Josh Payne, the Celtic Challenge Competition Manager said, “Following the successful pilot, it is clear to see the development opportunity that is now available for aspiring and promising players through the tournament, and the impact it has already had on the national teams in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
“Our focus continues to be providing female players with the right tools and experience to prepare them for the next stage of their rugby journey, whether that be as a professional rugby player or representative honours.”
As the tournament gears up for its second edition, further details, including participating teams, venues, and kick-off times, will be announced at the beginning of December.