The PRO14 has a long and illustrious reputation as one of Europe’s top leagues. It’s hotly contested by teams from Ireland, Italy, South Africa and Wales, and it’s one of only three major professional leagues in Europe.
The formation of the PRO14 league can be traced back to 2001, when the Celtic League started to include teams from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. However, PRO14 rugby has been known by many different names over the years. From 2006 until 2011, the league was sponsored by Magners and from 2011 to 2014, it was sponsored by RaboDirect. The current competition is sponsored by Guinness.
As well as the sponsorship of the competition changing, the format of the competition has changed, too. In 2010, the league expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams, when two Italian teams joined the competition. At this point, the league officially became known as the PRO12 because it included teams from outside the Celtic nations. In 2017, a further expansion took place and two South African teams joined. Ever since, it has been known as the PRO14.
The PRO14 takes place between September and May, with the PRO14 teams split into two conferences. Each conference contains two Irish and Welsh teams and one team each from Italy, Scotland and South Africa. The PRO14 teams then play each team in their own conference home and away and play each team from the opposing conference once, either at home or away. At the end of the conference stage, the top three PRO14 teams from each conference advance to the play-offs, with the conference winners gaining a bye to the semi-finals, which they host. The final is then played at a pre-arranged venue.
At the conclusion of the competition, seven teams qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup. The top three PRO14 teams from each conference qualify for the tournament and the fourth-placed teams in each conference enter a play-off for the seventh spot. However, South African teams are excluded from this because they’re ineligible for European competitions.
Since 2001, Irish teams have dominated PRO14 rugby. Leinster are the most successful team in the tournament with seven titles, and Irish rugby teams have won the PRO14 final on 12 occasions. By contrast, no team from Italy or South Africa has ever appeared in the PRO14 final.
Read on to discover even more about PRO14 rugby, including all of the upcoming PRO14 fixtures and the latest PRO14 results.