The product is excellent, the public are responding and, in Ireland in particular, the Celtic League has generated enormous interest.

Three superb quarter-finals around the Emerald Isle preceded another wonderful night's drama at Limerick's Thomond Park on Saturday night when Munster out-lasted Llanelli's sluggers to terminate Welsh interest before the semi-finals.

These matches of high intensity played in front of some 14,000 in Limerick, 12,000 in Belfast, 6000 in Dublin and a capacity 2000 in Galway were great spectacles. That, allied to European competition, this is the sort of rugby environment to give players the best possible chance to thrive is becoming increasingly obvious.

''This is a great competition,'' said Matt Williams, the former New South Wales Super 12 coach now in charge at Leinster, along with Munster one of only two sides in Europe that can still boast season-long unbeaten records.

''It has been fantastic for Scottish and Irish sides in particular, getting week-in, week-out competition and getting used to travelling.''

Two visits in a week to the Emerald Isle will certainly test Glasgow's mettle as they now carry the banner for the Scottish/Welsh League when they visit Leinster in Dublin on Friday night.

Admittedly, they should be helped by getting away from Leinster's Donnybrook stronghold, where they are becoming close to unbeatable, as both semi-finals now take place at the supposedly neutral Lansdowne Road, home of many happy Scottish memories over the past 20 years or so.

Perhaps it is a little over ambitious to play these semis at a national stadium in this first season, but there will probably be pretty decent attendances when Leinster face Glasgow and when, next day, Ulster return to the scene of their famous 1999 European Cup win to meet Munster, who reached the final of that competition the following year.

With what must be regarded as the likelihood of a Leinster v Munster final at the same venue a week later, the interest generated should be enormous.

Indeed, regardless of who reaches the final, any Irish company that was in the running to sponsor this competition and then withdrew will surely be kicking itself over what must be regarded as a missed opportunity.

What is now clear, though, is that the players are doing their bit, the wider rugby community is responding and now the administrators must capitalise.

In seeking sponsors they should now be in an excellent bargaining position since the per capita attendance at these Celtic League matches far outstrips the much-hyped Zurich English Premiership.

Yet while Irish rugby has done an enormous amount for Celtic rugby's image lately, it has also demonstrated in the past few days that there is still something horribly amateurish about how the game is run.

After all, the sacking of Warren Gatland, their national coach, clearly had much more to do with personalities than results following Ireland's most successful year in more than half a century of competition.

Accordingly, as Bill Watson, the SRU's chief executive, chairs the Celtic League committee meetings this week he must be aware that the pressure is now on the administrators to prove their value.

As players and coaches produce the goods, if he and his committee cannot clinch the deal on the sort of sponsorship they deserve then it is time for better businessmen to do it.