Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 07.24.23Club and Country are vying for attention as never before in Rugby as the season build up continues for both the Rugby World Cup on September 18th and the Guinness Pro12 two weeks earlier.

The launch of the latter took place at Diageo’s London Headquarters yesterday and Chairman of Pro12 Rugby Gerald Davies was keen to point out the continued rise of the tournament in terms of all the key numbers.

“We had a sixth year on continues growth in attendance with record crowds of 1.2 million , up 4.65% per cent on the previous season.”

This was despite almost saturation TV coverage of the tournament with 92% of games televised on Sky Sports, BBC Northern Ireland, TG4 or the other regional broadcast partners.

The meritocracy of qualification and seeding in the European Champions’ Cup was also credited as having increased the competitiveness of matches throughout the season and there is little doubt that Leinster’s ‘nightmare’ draw in that tournament and the line of logic through a disappointing year at the Pro12 will not be forgotten.

All 12 of the team captains and head coaches were present for the launch yesterday, including Leo Cullen, Anthony Foley, Neil Doak and Pat Lam from the Irish provinces. They are all waiting on the final selection for the World Cup from Ireland boss Joe Schmidt which will then enable players to be drafted back into provincial squads.

Guinness are joined again as sponsors by Specsavers as sponsors of the match officials and Rhino Rugby as the official match ball suppliers.

This will also be the first year in charge for newly appointed CEO Martin Anayi.

Image Credit: Billy Stickland /

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