"Wolfhounds and Clovers" - Teams and Dates Confirmed for Celtic Challenge Women's Rugby Competition - Ruck

“Wolfhounds and Clovers” – Teams and Dates Confirmed for Celtic Challenge Women’s Rugby Competition

Six teams for the 2023/24 Celtic Challenge have been confirmed, featuring two Women’s sides from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The tournament returns for its second iteration, yet has expanded from a three to six team competition.

The competition will commence on Friday December 29th, and the regular season runs until the fifth round of action on Saturday February 3rd. We will then enter the play-offs, with three rounds of action seeing the sides battle in double-header elimination fixtures, to determine the outright winner in March.

Wales Women line up for the national anthem during the TikTok Womens Six Nations match between England Women and Wales Women at Kingsholm Stadium on April 9 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

The competition was introduced to bridge the gap from women’s club rugby into the international test circuit, as the three Celtic Challenge sides close in on England and France in the Women’s Six Nations.

Last season, the competition featured Ireland’s Combined Provinces, Welsh Development XV and the Scottish Thistles. Ireland’s Combined Provinces won the inaugural competition back in January and February of this year, as they defeated both of their Welsh and Scottish opponents.

SCOTLAND – Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors

Sarah Bonar of Scotland Womens wins the line out ball during the Women’s Six Nations match between England Women and Scotland Women at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on the 16th March 2019. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK.

This season, there will be two sides from each competing nation, beginning with Scotland, who are set to field teams aligned to Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors.

Speaking on the announcement to Scottish Rugby, Gemma Fay, Scottish Rugby’s Head of Women’s & Girls’ Strategy said: “The decision to align our Celtic Challenge teams to Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors presents a fantastic opportunity to provide our two teams with a strong individual identity and sense of belonging, whilst also tapping into each club’s current fan base. I know that Al Kellock, Doug Struth and their colleagues will do a great job in making our teams and their management feel part of their clubs.

Scotland Women line up for the national anthem during the Women’s Six Nations match between England Women and Scotland Women at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on the 16th March 2019. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK.

“This branding alignment plays a fundamental part in progressing our Women’s and Girls’ Strategy, and as the Celtic Challenge competition develops, we look forward to the prospect of that alignment being taken further as we continue to build towards semi-professional teams in the future.”

The alignment will see the two teams play their home matches at Edinburgh’s Hive Stadium and Glasgow’s Scotstoun Stadium respectively.

IRELAND – Wolfhounds and Clovers

The Irish side’s in the competition will be known as the Wolfhounds and the Clovers, with two of Ireland’s four provinces providing the players for each side. Connacht and Munster will make up the Clovers squad, whilst Leinster and Ulster combine their talents for the Wolfhounds. However, in order to provide quality game time and positional cover, the IRFU stated that ‘there will also be some cross over with the provincial players.’

Gillian McDarby, IRFU Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways, commented to the IRFU:

“The IRFU considers the Celtic Challenge an integral tournament for the development of women’s rugby players in Ireland. It will play a significant role in the player pathway moving forward.”

“In its inaugural/pilot season, one team represented each of the home nations (Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). However, for the 2024 season, we have expanded the Cross Border competition to include two teams from each Union.”

“The collective goal of the three unions is to elevate the Celtic Challenge to the highest level of competition possible, ensuring that players are in the best position to compete in the Women’s Six Nations”.

WALES – Brython Thunder and Gwalia Lightning

The two Welsh sides had their naming and branding developed in collaboration with current players. The brands for the two WRU franchises are inspired by ‘Brython’, the first Celtic language, and ‘Gwalia’, the original name for Wales. The two Welsh sides meet on New Years Day 2024, to kick off their new competition.

The WRU released a statement, overviewing their new side – “Brython Thunder will wear red and black, be based at the Parc y Scarlets and play their home games out of both Parc y Scarlets and Stadiwm CSM in Colwyn Bay. While Gwalia Lightning will wear Blue and Yellow, be based and train at Cardiff Metropolitan University and play their home games at Cardiff Arms Park.”

John Alder, the WRU’s Head of Player Development, said to the WRU: “The establishment of these two teams in the new expanded Celtic Challenge underlines the Welsh Rugby Union’s commitment to women’s rugby in Wales and we look to seeing these two teams help develop an exciting new competition for for rugby in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.


Round one features a derby match between the three nations, as the Scottish, Irish and Welsh sides battle one-another to secure their countries’ bragging rights.