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Former Wales scrum-half Richie Rees will head the Cardiff Blues development squad, with the coaching staff including Gethin Jenkins

The set-up of Welsh and Irish rugby’s new development competition has been confirmed.

The Celtic Cup is made up of squads of emerging talent from Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Scarlets, Ospreys, Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

It aims to prepare players, coaches and referees for the rigours of the professional game.

The tournament starts in the second weekend of the new season with matches played between Thursday and Saturday.

It features a conference of the four Welsh regions and another of the quartet of Irish provinces.

Each team will play six matches – two against domestic opposition and four against sides in the opposite conference.

The two teams at the top of each conference will then face off in a final later in the season.

Welsh Rugby Union head of rugby performance Geraint John said he was excited about the new performance pathway.

“The Celtic Cup will help develop players into senior professionals while also promoting and improving Welsh coaches and other performance staff such as strength and conditioning coaches, analysts and referees,” he said.

Fixtures

  • Weekend one (7 September)

Munster v Connacht, Ulster v Leinster, Ospreys v Scarlets, Dragons v Cardiff Blues

  • Weekend two (14,15,16 September)

Leinster v Cardiff Blues, Ospreys v Munster, Ulster v Scarlets, Dragons v Connacht

  • Weekend three (21,22,23 September)

Scarlets v Leinster, Munster v Dragons, Cardiff Blues v Ulster, Connacht v Ospreys

  • Weekend four (28,29,30 September)

Leinster v Ospreys, Cardiff Blues v Munster, Ulster v Dragons, Scarlets v Connacht

  • Weekend five (5,6,7 October)

Dragons v Leinster, Munster v Scarlets, Ospreys v Ulster, Connacht v Cardiff Blues

  • Weekend six (12,13,14 October)

Leinster v Munster, Connacht v Ulster, Cardiff Blues v Ospreys, Scarlets v Dragons

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