Ireland will replace South Africa for the 2023-24 season of the FIH Hockey Men’s Pro League after the latter announced it would not be joining the competition.

South Africa had qualified for the competition by winning the 2022 FIH Nation’s Cup after beating Ireland 4-3 in the final. Following South Africa’s withdrawal, the FIH invited Ireland to join the Pro League.

“We are delighted this has come about. It’s a big opportunity for us and for men’s hockey in Ireland. It’s a massive challenge for us but I’ve said many times before that for Ireland to move forward in world hockey we need to be playing competitive games against the top nations. To have to chance now to play sixteen games against the top countries in the world gives us that opportunity to develop. It’s what we need and it’s a big carrot for the players,” Ireland coach Mark Tumilty said.

Though South Africa Hockey Association did not disclose its reasons for withdrawing from the Pro League in the statement issued by FIH, SAHA interim CEO Shaune Baaitjies said that its men’s and women’s teams will take part in future seasons of the FIH Pro League should they qualify.

The 2023-24 season of the men’s and women’s FIH Pro League will be the first season to have a promotion and relegation system in place. India will take part in the FIH Women’s Pro League next season after winning the inaugural FIH Women’s Nations Cup, defeating Spain in the final.

The upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League season (2023-24) will be the first one applying the promotion and relegation principle. In concrete terms, the winners of the inaugural FIH Hockey Nations Cup played in 2022 (India for women, South Africa – now replaced by Ireland – for men) have been promoted. Both teams will take the place of the teams relegated (one women’s team and one men’s team) at the end of the current season.