(previously Pro 12)
The Guinness PRO 14 rugby competition is a third tier level rugby competition in Europe. It is played among teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and South Africa. It started in 2001 as the Celtic League, was known as the Magners League for a period, then the RaboDirect PRO 12 and then the Guinness Pro 12.
It started as a league for the Celtic nations but is now called the PRO 14 to reflect that teams from outside those nations are now involved.
In 2017 two South African teams were added to the competition.
The fourteen teams will be split into two conferences of seven teams, with each conference featuring two teams from Ireland and Wales plus single teams from Italy, Scotland and South Africa. The regular season will be made up of 21 rounds -12 home and away games for each team in their own conference, 7 games either home or away against the opposing teams in the other conference, plus 2 games against teams from the same country in the other conference. The play-offs will include, for the first time, quarter-finals prior to the semi-finals and final.
The teams are:
Previous Years Results
The PRO 12 started in 2001 as the Celtic League. This followed the Irish teams joining in with the Welsh/Scottish league that had started 2 years earlier.
The 1st season had 15 teams playing: 4 from Ireland, 9 from Wales and 2 from Scotland. There were 2 pools, one of 8 teams and one of 7 teams. Teams played each other once and then the top 4 teams from each pool went into quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.
In 2002/03 a third Scottish team joined the competition so there were 2 pools of 8 teams. The Welsh/Scottish league was abandoned in favour of the Celtic League.
In 2003/04 changes were made to the competition. Welsh Rugby underwent major changes and moved to regional teams. This along with other commercial considerations led to the Celtic League becoming the only professional league for the three countries involved. The Celtic League also changed it's format to a traditional league style with home and away games. The winner was the top team at the end of the season.
In 2004/05, due to financial issues, one of the Welsh teams, the Celtic Warriors, was wound up. This left 4 Welsh teams in an 11 team competition. The following year, 2006, the league gained sponsorship and was known as the Magner's League.
In 2007/08 the Scottish team Borders was disbanded so the competition was made up of 10 teams.
In 2009/10 the format was changed to introduce a play-off system. The top 4 teams played semi-finals and a final for the 1st time.
In 2010/11 the competition became a 12 team league with the addition of 2 Italian teams. The next year, to reflect these non Celtic based teams, the name was changed to the PRO 12.
In 2014 the competition continued with the same format but became the Guinness Pro 12 with a change in the sponsorship. Other changes in European rugby meant a new importance and relevance to finishing positions in the Pro 12.
In 2017 two South African teams were added to the competition. This followed a restructure of the Super Rugby competition in the southern hemisphere, which led to the dropping of two South African and one Australian team.
The Newport Gwent Dragons team name was shortened to Dragons following ownership changes.
Zebre has also basically had a change of ownership, with the FIR taken over control of the club and is now run under the banner of the Zebre Rugby Club.
The fourteen teams were split into two conferences of seven teams, with each conference featuring two teams from Ireland and Wales plus single teams from Italy, Scotland and South Africa. The regular season will be made up of 21 rounds -12 home and away games for each team in their own conference, 7 games either home or away against the opposing teams in the other conference, plus two regional derbies. The play-offs will include, for the first time, a round of two quarter-finals prior to the semi-finals and final.
The PRO 12 is used by the participants to determine qualification for European rugby.
The top 3 Irish and Welsh teams qualified for the Heineken Cup. The 2 Scottish and 2 Italian teams also qualified for the Heineken Cup by virtue of their participation in the PRO 12.
Depending on the winner of the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup (Amlin Cup), a 4th Welsh or Irish team could qualify as well.
With the changes to European rugby in 2014, the qualification requirements also changed. The top 7 teams qualify for the European Rugby Champions Cup, with the best placed team from each nation gaining one of the places. The 8th and 9th placed teams will be in a play-off with the 7th placed teams from the Premiership and the Top 14 for the last place in that competition. Teams that do not make the Champions Cup will play in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
In 2017 changes were made to the qualification for the European Rugby Champions Cup. The top 7 teams from the Pro 14 (not the SA teams) would qualify regardless of their country of origin. The play-off matches will continue.