The ‘A’ sides of the four Irish provinces will take part in round-robin fixtures next year against the New England Free Jacks, a Boston-based American rugby franchise who will join Major League Rugby (MLR) from 2020.
The IRFU have partnered with the Free Jacks so that the ‘A’ sides of the four Irish provinces will travel to the USA in March and April of next year where they will play two fixtures each; one against the Free Jacks and another against an Irish province.
Connacht will be the first team to take on the Free Jacks on 16th March and will then play Ulster on the 20th March before returning to Galway. Ulster will then play the Free Jacks on 24th March before returning to Belfast.
Munster will play the Free Jacks on the 6th April and then play Leinster on the 10th April in Boston ahead of returning to Limerick. Leinster will then play the New Jacks on the 14th April before returning to Dublin.
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented, “We are delighted to be partnering with the New England Free Jacks for this development opportunity which follows on from the success of the Celtic Cup earlier in the season.
“Our provincial development sides will face the challenge of preparing for two competitive fixtures within an eight-day window while also having to manage recovery and operating in a new environment. The combination of these elements will further accelerate their progress as developing professionals.
“The New England Free Jacks are in an exciting phase of their development as they continue to build towards competing in Major League Rugby in 2020. This series of games provides valuable exposure for our emerging talent and one which we believe will be mutually beneficial to both Irish and US rugby.”
Saturday 16th March 2019
New England Free Jacks v Connacht
Wednesday 20th March 2019
Connacht v Ulster
Sunday 24th March 2019
New England Free Jacks v Ulster
Saturday 6th April 2019
New England Free Jacks v Munster
Wednesday 10th April 2019
Munster v Leinster
Sunday 14th April 2019
Leinster v New England Free Jacks