Wilkinson to return to Newcastle with Toulon
June 15, 2011
Harlequins won last season's Amlin Challenge Cup, beating Stade Francais in a truly epic final © Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson is set for an emotional return to Kingston Park after his Toulon side were drawn in the same pool as former club Newcastle Falcons in next season's Amlin Challenge Cup.
The England fly-half spent twelve seasons with the Falcons, racking up a staggering 2,005 points in 180 appearances, before leaving for France in 2009. The injury-prone Wilkinson has resurrected his career in the Top 14 but will no doubt be excited about lining out against his former side. As well as Newcastle, Toulon also have Petrarca Padova and tournament newcomers Lyon Rugby for company in Pool 2.
Elsewhere, Worcester Warriors have been drawn in Pool 1 alongside last year's runners-up, Stade Francais, Italians Crociati Parma and Romanian outfit Bucharest Wolves. London Wasps, meanwhile, have been grouped with French outfit Bayonne, who this week announced the signing of Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips, Femi-CZ Rovigo and Bordeaux-Begles.
Exeter Chiefs have been landed in Pool 4 alongside James Hook's new side, Perpignan, Welsh region Newport Gwent Dragons and Cavalieri Prato, while Sale Sharks have undoubtedly been the toughest draw, having been pit alongside two French sides in the shape of Brive and Agen, as well as Spain's Club de Rugby La Vila, who will also be making their first appearance in the Challenge Cup.
The tournament gets underway on the second weekend of November. As with last season, only the pool winners qualify for the quarter-finals, where they will be joined by the three best runners-up from the pool stages of the Heineken Cup.
Pool 1: Stade Francais Paris, Worcester Warriors, Crociati Parma, Bucharest Wolves
Amlin Challenge Cup 2011/12 Dates
ROUND 1 - 10/11/12/13 November 2011
QUARTER-FINALS - 6/7/8 April 2012
SEMI-FINALS - 27/28/29 April 2012
The 16th Amlin Challenge Cup Final - 18/19/20 May 2012
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin