The new PRO12 structure could spell bad news for Leinster and Munster fans
If you love a good Munster v Leinster derby clash, the new PRO12 structure is going to come as very bad news.
A change in the structure of the PRO12 will see a drastic reduction in the number of Munster v Leinster clashes that take place over the course of a regular season.
Under proposals set to be announced in the coming week, two South African sides are set to join the championship - making it the PRO14, in effect - with two separate conferences being set up.
The Cheetahs and the Kings will join the old Celtic League, which will now be broken up into two separate groups of seven teams each.
Teams will face those in their own conference twice, home and away, but will only face those in the opposite conference once.
Adding Ulster and Connacht into the mix, it means that the number of matches between the Irish provinces will be reduced by a third from next season onwards, from 12 games to eight games.
Leinster and Munster are set to be kept apart as the league prepares to make its new structure known on Tuesday.
The composition of the two conferences will be based on last season's final table after 22 matches.
That would see Conference A made up of Munster, Scarlets, Ulster, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Zebre and either the Cheetahs or Kings.
Conference B, by contrast, would involve Leinster, Ospreys, Glasgow, Connacht, Treviso, Dragons and again, either the Cheetahs or the Kings.
Once the 19-game tables are fully decided, play-offs would then presumably take place between the top two sides in each conference.
Episode 29 of The Hard Yards rugby podcast features Ronan O'Gara, Mike McCarthy, James Downey and Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale.
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