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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Your view on the Celtic League
The Celtic League opens its first season full of hope and with expectation high in Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Is the new competition the stepping stone that domestic rugby needs to improve, or is it an unwanted distraction in an already crowded season?

HAVE YOUR SAY

While the Heineken Cup currently comes first in clubs' ambitions and the fans' interest, the Celtic League has the potential to carve its own place in the game.

The leading Welsh clubs have coped comfortably with the two Scottish super-districts in the past but the Irish provincial sides are difficult opponents.

Will the Celtic teams have an advantage when the European Cup and Shield start thanks to harder matches in the early season?

Have the three governing bodies missed an opportunity by leaving European qualification with the Welsh-Scottish League and the Inter-Provincial Championship?

The Welsh Rugby Union insisted on 11 Welsh clubs being entered into the new league, creating a lopsided look to the pools. Will this create problems in the future?

With much of the Celtic League action being broadcast live by the BBC you will be able to see and hear the action unfold, so keep your comments and thoughts coming through the season.

HAVE YOUR SAY



This league could rival the Zurich
Toby, Wales

The Celtic league will prove very valuable in the development of Irish, Scothish and Welsh rugby. There is a gap between our nations and England in the Six Nations and hopefully this will shorten it.

Just a note to Huw from Wales about your point that Scotish and Irish clubs should have to qualify for the Heineken Cup. Do you have no memory? For the last three years Irish teams have been amoungst the best performer's in the European Cup, Ulster won it, Munster lost out on the last kick of the game against Northampton and Munster also reached the semi-finals last year. Also, they should have qualified for the final but for a terrible refereeing decision which disallowed a perfectly good try and also called a perfectly good penalty wide when it clearly went over the bar and between the posts. I don't seem to remember Welsh clubs preforming to this level or anything near this level in the European Cup do you?
Jude, Ireland

I saw Leinster beat Llanelli on Friday. The weather was cold(ish), the game was on TV and it was not a traditional night for rugby but Stradey was a good three-quarters full. With a bit of sensible marketing and the return of the Lions, this league could rival the Zurich as long as it is given a few seasons to bed itself in and is not abandoned in panic part way through the season.
Toby, Wales

The whole idea of having a British Isles league was a good one! But as England didn't want to particapte, it will only deny them valuable match experience because some of the Celtic teams would give them great games. If this Celtic league takes off, the stronger teams in the league will only become more powerful. England will regret their decision in a year or so as they will struggle against their neighbouring countries in the Six Nations.
Simon, Ireland

It's a nice idea but not sure whether it will work. It's a shame that there is no real interest being generated in Scotland with no TV coverage. I think next year we should reduce the number of welsh sides by 1 or 2 teams and hopefully Scotland can create another district. It would be even better if the Scots and Irish had to earn qualification for the Heineken cup!
Huw, Wales


The Celtic League has great potential
Barrie, Wales

The Celtic League has great potential. It's a shame its inaugural season is after a Lions tour as many of the leagues stars won't be involved for some time. It is a bit lop-sided with 11 Welsh clubs but it looks as if this could be resolved by a third Scottish district. It's a great chance for the Welsh clubs to sharpen up for Europe by playing the powerful Irish teams. It's clear that the way forward is for the Celtic League to count towards European qualification. This will give it the extra edge in order for it to be regarded along side the English and French domestic leagues.
Barrie, Wales

I took my daughter to the Edinburgh- Munster game on Friday night, and we both enjoyed it, although the result was disappointing. They did seem keen to find a new audience, for the new team and league; this can only be a good thing. I will go back, as will my daughter, and we can only hope that the Celtic league will encourage new rugby talent and interest.
Peter, Scotland

I find it fascinating that the English seem so convinced of this massive gap between England and the Celtic nations, it's rubbish. Undoubtedly England are currently the form side in Europe but I would certainly not put Ireland an unreachable distance behind them. At provincial level Ireland has had a European champion, a runner-up and a semi-finalist beaten by a bad referee's decision in the last three years. The national team has convincingly turned the corner now as well and there is the small matter of the 2000 6-nations still to be decided. If England are so far ahead then how on earth do they keep avoiding the Grand slam?
Caimh, Ireland

The Celtic league appears to be a very exciting prospect. It is a shame that other competitions are in the way of it, but it is a very promising start to rival the Zurich Premiership. I'd like to see the Welsh/Scottish League abandoned, with this competition being the main domestic club competition for those participating in it.
Malcolm, England


It is the first real step forward for supporters in Scotland since the game went pro
James Watson, Scotland

"Celtic League excites fans, say Scots", is the BBC's headline for the launch of the new league. So why aren't BBC Scotland showing any of the matches?
Phil, Scotland

A Celtic competition is long overdue and will produce a better standard of rugby. It is the first real step forward for supporters in Scotland since the game went pro. Pity there isn't more coverage on TV given the buzz that is around in Scottish rugby at the moment.
James Watson, Scotland

Every good wish to the Celtic League as a means of raising the quality of rugby in the Celtic nations. I would go one step further and inaugurate an annual match between England and a team representing the Celtic Nations as a means of dealing with the huge disparity that now exists between England and the rest. With Europe (e.g. France/Italy/Romania), England, and the three Southern hemisphere teams they could form a real six nations contest of great quality.
Cynewulf, England

At last it's off the ground. Not an ideal structure, but something to build on. Personally I would like to see the Welsh clubs have a reduced involvement in future and to use the domestic league as qualification for the Celtic League and the Celtic League as qualification for Europe. Having the Irish at the party will certainly hot up the competition. Let's hope that in a few years we will have a league that the English clubs will be begging to join.
Paul, Wales

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