Pools announced for British and Irish Cup

The pools for the brand new British & Irish Cup will see some mouth-watering clashes next season.


Twelve teams from the English Championship, six from the Welsh Principality Premiership, Irish provinces Munster, Leinster and Ulster and three Scottish sides are competing for the inaugural trophy.


The pools – fixtures to be subsequently announced – are as follows:


POOL A: Exeter Chiefs, Leinster, Cornish Pirates, Newport, Plymouth Albion, The Thistles


POOL B: Coventry, Bristol Rugby, Heriot’s, Munster, Neath, Nottingham


POOL C: Aberavon, Bedford Blues, Llanelli, London Welsh, Moseley, Ulster


POOL D: Ayr, Birmingham & Solihull, Cardiff, Doncaster Knights, Pontypridd, Rotherham Titans


Fixtures will be played over five weekends during the Investec Challenge Series and RBS 6 Nations windows with semi finals and finals on April 24 and May 15 respectively.


Terry Burwell, the Rugby Football Union’s Tournaments and Competitions Director, said: “Since announcing the British & Irish Cup on May 6 there has been growing interest in and anticipation of this tournament. We believe that the fixtures these pools throw up will provide a level of cup competition that will excite players, coaches and supporters.


“When you consider ties such as Cornish Pirates against Newport, Ulster against London Welsh, Bristol versus Heriot’s and Birmingham & Solihull taking on Cardiff – all fixtures made possible by the British & Irish Cup – then you have the competitive inter-nation rugby that has proved so successful in the Heineken Cup.”


Geoff Irvine, Chairman of Bedford Blues and the Championship clubs’ representative on the RFU Council, added: “I know the Championship clubs are all looking forward to competing in this exciting new competition. It gives supporters the opportunity to visit new venues and the players the opportunity to take on new opponents – as well as renewing some historic rivalries.”


BACKGROUND


24 teams
-12 English Championship clubs (Bedford, Birmingham & Solihull, Bristol Rugby, Cornish Pirates, Coventry, Doncaster Knights, Exeter Chiefs, London Welsh, Moseley, Nottingham, Plymouth Albion, Rotherham Titans)
– top 6 Welsh Principality Premiership clubs (Aberavon, Cardiff, Llanelli, Neath, Newport, Pontypridd)
– 3 Irish provinces (Munster, Leinster, Ulster)
– 3 Scottish teams – top two finishers in Scottish Hydro Electric Premiership Division 1 (champions Ayr and runners-up Heriot’s) and the Scottish Thistles, a team drawn from Edinburgh and Glasgow and members of Scottish Rugby’s National Academy


Pool Stages
– 4 pools of 6 playing once (5 matches)
– pools based on travel/geography with the aim of maximising local interest and minimising cost to teams and supporters
– 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 bonus point for either a) scoring 4 or more tries or b) losing by 7 points or less
– pool matches scheduled for November 7 and 28, February 13, February 27, March 13 (all dates to be confirmed)
– pool winners progress to knockout stage


Semi finals and final
– 4 pool winners progress to semi finals and final
– Semi finals scheduled for April 24, final for May 15

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