Officials from the Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian rugby unions have dramatically announced there will be no Pro12 league for the 2016/17 season.
After a full twenty minutes of “passionate debate” and “soul searching”, tournament organisers agreed on Monday it was time to put the league to rest.
At a hastily assembled press conference, league spokesperson Patrick Connor revealed the the much maligned league was quietly taken around the back of Simmonscourt House offices in Dublin on Monday night and “quickly put it out of its misery.”
“Let’s be honest,” said Connor. “It was the morally right thing to do. It was painful seeing how dishevelled, unloved and pitiful the tournament had become. It just couldn’t go on like this. I can assure the rugby community the league’s end was swift, painless and it didn’t feel a thing - much like the fans that occasionally watch its games.”
The late cancellation of the main domestic league in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy will likely have a very minor impact on at least 10,023 fans who were “kind of” looking forward for something to do in the winter months if there was nothing else on. The impact on the wider rugby watching community - denied the chance to watch Treviso play the Newport Gwent Dragons twice a year - is also expected to be limited.
Broadcasters have not yet responded to the news as each of the main channels contacted for a quote by The East Terrace said they needed to check whether they actually broadcast any games themselves as none of them could quite remember.
News of the Pro12’s demise will come as a shock to those who thought recent blabbering by officials about American and Spanish expansion was even in the realms of a good idea.
“Obviously, it’s a sad day to say farewell to a league that once brought us so much joy and history,” said Connor. “Like the time when...um...you know...that epic game when...um...or the time when there was that game between, um….Or that exciting final when….oh...um.
“My word! Is that the time. Sorry, can you just excuse me? Have to run!”
Despite constant tinkering with the league, most notably with the random addition of the Auckland Blues to the competition in 2003 and the inclusion of Italian sides, the league has failed to capture fans’ hearts or fire their imagination.
One league organiser, who wished to remain anonymous said: “Who were we kidding with this league? Seriously, can you even name me the league winner from two years ago? I bloody well can’t and I’m on the organising committee of the Celtic League, I mean Pro12, no, I mean Guinness Pro12. Sorry, I’m still not used to us having a sponsor.”
As of press time there is no indication of what will happen to the couple of hundred euros the Irish and Scottish television deals brought into tournament coffers. A two minute memorial video is expected to be published in memory of the league on YouTube in the coming months after extensive research is carried out to uncover potential highlights.