1. The format and playing aspects of the (“Guinness PRO14”) shall be governed by the Guinness PRO14 Rules. In addition, the Guinness PRO14 shall be played under World Rugby Laws of the Game and in accordance with the World Rugby Regulations relating to the Game.
2. There shall be fourteen Teams (“Teams”) participating in the Guinness PRO14 which comprises two Teams from Scotland, two Teams from South Africa, two Teams from Italy, four Teams from Wales and four Teams from Ireland.
3. The Championship will be played in two stages, the League Stage and the Knock-Out Stage, as set out below.
3.1 The Conference Stage:
3.1.1 For the Conference Stage, Celtic Rugby will have divided the Clubs into two conferences of seven Clubs each, Conference A and Conference B, at Celtic Rugby’s discretion. Each conference will be made up of two Clubs from each of Ireland and Wales, and a single Club from each of Scotland, Italy and South Africa.
3.1.2 Each Club will play:
(a) against each of the other six Clubs in the same conference twice (once at home, once away, i.e. 12 Matches in total);
(b) against each of the seven Clubs in the other conference once (i.e. seven Matches in total, Celtic Rugby will in its discretion determine whether these Matches will be home or away); and
(c) in two further Matches against the Club (for the Italian, Scottish and South African Clubs) or Clubs (for the Irish and Welsh Clubs) in the other conference that are nominated by the same Union as the first Club (i.e. two Matches in total, Celtic Rugby will determine whether these Matches will be home or away based on whether the corresponding Matches played under clause 3.1.2(b), above, were played home or away).
Explanatory Note: for example, Munster (Conference A) will play two Matches against each of the other Clubs in Conference A, one Match against each of the Clubs in Conference B, and in accordance with clause 3.1.2(c), above, one further Match against each of Leinster and Ulster (both Conference B). By way of another example, Edinburgh (Conference B) will play two Matches against each of the other Clubs in Conference B, one Match against each of the Clubs in Conference A and, in accordance with clause 3.1.2(c), above, two further Matches against Glasgow (Conference A).
3.1.3 In all matches in the Conference Stage, four league points shall be awarded for a win and two
league points shall be awarded for a draw. One bonus league point shall be awarded to a
Team scoring four or more tries and one bonus league point shall be awarded to a Team losing by seven points or less.
3.1.4 The positions of the Clubs in the Conference Stage will be based on the following, in order:
(a) the number of League Points awarded to each Club;
(b) if unresolved, the number of Matches won by each Club in the League Stage;
(c) if unresolved, the difference between the total points scored and the total points conceded on the field of play for each Club in all Matches in the League Stage;
(d) if unresolved, the number of tries scored by each Club in all Matches in the League Stage;
(e) if unresolved, the number of points scored on the field of play by each Club in all Matches in the League Stage;
(f) if unresolved, the difference between the number of tries scored and the number of tries conceded by each Club in all Matches in the League Stage;
(g) if unresolved, the number of Players suspended by a Disciplinary Committee or Appeal Committee for incidents taking place in the League Stage;
(h) if unresolved, the number of yellow cards received by Players for each Club in all Matches in the League Stage;
(i) if unresolved, the toss of a coin or as otherwise determined by Celtic Rugby in its absolute discretion.
For the purposes of this clause 3.1.4, what qualifies as a yellow card will be determined by Celtic Rugby in its absolute discretion.
3.2 The Knock-Out Stage
3.2.1 The Clubs that rank in the top three positions in each of Conference A and Conference B respectively will qualify for the Knock-Out Stage.
3.2.2 The Knock-Out Stage will be divided into two Quarter-Final Matches, two semi-final Matches and a Final Match.
3.2.3 The Quarter-Final Matches will be knock-out, each played over one Match:
22.214.171.124 the Club ranked second in Conference A will play at home against the Club ranked third in Conference B (QF1); and
126.96.36.199 the Club ranked second in Conference B will play at home against the Club ranked third in Conference A (QF2).
3.2.4 The winners of the Quarter-Final Matches will proceed to the Semi-Final Matches. The Semi-Final Matches will be knock-out, each played over one Match:
188.8.131.52 the Club ranked first in Conference A will play at home against the winner of QF2; and
184.108.40.206 the Club ranked first in Conference B will play at home against the winner of QF1.
3.2.5 The winners of the semi-final Matches will proceed to the Final Match. The Final Match will be knock-out, played over one Match, at a venue designated by Celtic Rugby.
3.2.6 Seven European Clubs will be eligible to participate in the European Professional Club Rugby tournaments (South African teams are ineligible for EPCR tournaments).
3.2.7 The seven Clubs that qualify to participate in the 2018/19 EPCR Champions Cup will be made up of the following:
3.2.8 In the event of a tie at full-time of a Knock-Out Stage Match, the winner of that Match shall be determined by reference to the following rules:
(a) Extra time will be played in accordance with the protocol set out at Appendix Two to these Championship Rules and the Club that scores the most points in such extra time shall be deemed the winner of that Match.
(b) If the scores are tied after extra time, then the Club that has scored the most tries in that Match (including extra time) shall be deemed the winner of that Match.
(c) If the scores are tied after extra time and the Clubs have scored the same number of tries in that Match (including extra time), then the winner of the Match will be determined by a place-kick competition conducted in accordance the Championship Rules (see below).
Guinness PRO14 Final
4.1 The winner of the Guinness PRO14 for 2017/18 will therefore be the Team that wins the Guinness PRO14 Final – provisionally scheduled for May 26, 2018.
4.2 In the event of a tie at full time in a Guinness PRO14 Final then extra-time will be played, consisting of two periods, each of ten minutes. If the score is still tied after extra-time, the Team that has scored the most tries in the match will be deemed the winner. If the Teams are still tied on points and tries at the end of extra-time then the winner will be determined by a Place Kick Competition.
4.3 In the event that a Place Kick Competition is required, each Team will nominate three goal kickers who will take six place kicks between them from different positions along the twenty-two metre and ten metre lines. The Team with the most place kicks scored will be the winner. If the Teams are tied at the end of their six kicks, then sudden death will apply.
4.4 Only players in the playing area at the final whistle of extra-time may be nominated for the Place Kick Competition. No substituted players or players who have been shown a red card may take part at any time including any player who has received a yellow card and who remains in the sin bin at the time of the final whistle of extra-time.
5. Matches will ordinarily be played on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday of the respective weekends designated by Celtic Rugby.
5.1 In the event that a Match has begun but is then abandoned after 60 minutes or more have been played (i.e. at least 20 minutes into the second half):
(a) the Match will be deemed to have been completed, and the result at the time of the abandonment will stand as the Match result; and
(b) the procedure regarding any Citing Commissioner Warnings, Temporary Suspensions and red cards received in respect of the Match and/or any incidents in the Match that are the subject of citing or Misconduct complaints will be the same as if the Match had been completed.
5.1.1 In the event that a Match has begun but is then abandoned after fewer than 60 minutes have been played (i.e. fewer than 20 minutes into the second half), Celtic Rugby shall decide, in its absolute discretion, whether:
(a) the Match will be deemed to have been completed; or
(b) the Match will be replayed in full, in which case:
(i) Celtic Rugby shall select a date, kick-off time and venue for the replayed Match;
(ii) the procedure regarding any Citing Commissioner Warnings, Temporary Suspensions and red cards received in respect of the Match and/or any incidents in the Match that are the subject of citing or Misconduct complaints will be the same as if the Match had been completed; and
(iii) for the avoidance of doubt, a Club participating in a replayed Match may select a different team and/or squad from the team/squad it originally selected for the abandoned Match.
5.1.2 The Match referee will determine whether or not 60 minutes or more of a Match have been played at the time of abandonment.
6. No player may represent a Team in the Guinness PRO14 unless he is a registered playing member of that Team, or a permit has been granted for him to play for that Team in the Guinness PRO14.
6.1 Teams will be limited to registering up to 38 players at any one time (a minimum of ten must be suitably trained and experienced front row players (“Front Row Players”)) who may be eligible to play for the Team in the Guinness PRO14.
6.2. A maximum of two non-European players are permitted in a Team’s match squad.
6.3 Each South African Club is permitted a maximum of two Non-South African Players in any one Match squad. A “Non-South African Player” is a Player who is not a South African Player.
6.4. A Team may play permit players from the lower divisions within the same Union. No non-European player may play on permit for the teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland or Wales and a permit player may only play on permit for one Team in the Guinness PRO14 in any one season. South African clubs can draw upon permit players from lower championship teams in South Africa, and specifically not players who are registered to Super Rugby clubs/
6.5 No player is eligible to play for a Team in the Guinness PRO14 if he transfers or is registered after the 19 March 2018 during the relevant season (although there is an exception for under 18 players in certain circumstances).
6.6 Each Team must nominate a matchday squad of 23 players, of which six must be Front Row Players, to ensure that on the first occasion a replacement in any front row position is required, the Team can continue to play with contested scrummages.
6.7 If a Front Row Player has to be replaced and his Team cannot provide a replacement or other suitably qualified player from those who started the match or from the nominated replacements to enable the match to continue safely, the match referee will order uncontested scrums. Should this happen, the Team concerned shall not be entitled to replace the player whose departure caused uncontested scrums.
7. The referees for all matches in the Guinness PRO14 shall be chosen by the Guinness PRO14’s Elite Referee Manager from a panel of referees agreed by the Elite Referee Manager and the Referee Managers of the Guinness PRO14 Unions.
8. A Citing Commissioner will be appointed for all matches in the Guinness PRO14. They shall be entitled to cite a player for any acts of foul play that in the opinion of the Citing Commissioner warranted the player being shown a red card, even where such act(s) may have been detected by the referee and/or touch judge(s) and may have been the subject of action taken by them.
Television Match Official (“TMO” )
9. A TMO shall be appointed for any match in the Guinness PRO14 that is being broadcast live.
9.1 The role of the television match official will be as set out in the Laws of the Game and any World Rugby protocol (or similar) relating to television match officials (as varied or supplemented by Celtic Rugby from time to time).
The above sets out a summary of certain provisions of the Guinness PRO14 Rules for information purposes only. As such, these provisions may be not be relied upon and for a full and proper understanding of the provisions and rules of the Guinness PRO14, reference must be made to the Guinness PRO14 Rules in their existing and entire form.