Fixtures confirmed for new Anglo-Welsh season
August 10, 2009
Cardiff Blues skipper Paul Tito lifts the Anglo-Welsh Cup last season © Getty Images
The dates and kick-off times for the new-look Anglo-Welsh competition have been confirmed by tournament officials.
Cardiff Blues will kick off their title with a re-run of last season's final against Gloucester. The Blues, who beat the Cherry and Whites 50-12 at Twickenham in April, will go head-to-head at Kingsholm on November 6.
The newly structured competition will see the 12 Guinness Premiership clubs and four Welsh Regions play over four weekends, followed by the semi-finals and finals. Each team will be guaranteed two home and two away inter-pool fixtures, with the top teams from each pool qualifying for the knockout stages.
Elsewhere, Premiership champions Leicester will kick off their campaign against newly-promoted Leeds Carnegie at Headingley on November 8 while Ospreys, winners in 2007 and 2008, will open their account at home to Northampton Saints on November 6.
Speaking earlier this year at the launch of the tournament, Terry Burwell, Rugby Football Union Tournaments and Competitions Director, said: "We are delighted that together with Premier Rugby Ltd and the Welsh Rugby Union we have come up with a structure that will not only help players, coaches and officials develop but also provides more revenue potential for the Guinness Premiership clubs and the Welsh regions.
"There is a massive appetite for Cup rugby in England and Wales. The average attendance at pool matches over the past three seasons has been 8506 and the final averaged 60,000. There is plenty to look forward to with pool matches such as Gloucester Rugby against Cardiff Blues and Leicester Tigers against Newport Gwent Dragons in the first two rounds this coming season."
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis also endorsed the new look competition. "There is a rich history and heritage surrounding Anglo-Welsh encounters stretching back many years," he said. "The Welsh Rugby Union is delighted that the RFU and PRL have secured the future of this great competition. We are all committed to seeing it flourish and grow from the strong base it has already created.
"It is vitally important for the supporters from both our nations to get the opportunity to see games of the highest standard and this competition serves to deliver that and ensure our talented young players improve by playing against top class opposition."
2009-10 Anglo-Welsh Cup Fixtures:
Pool 1: Leicester Tigers, Sale Sharks, Saracens, Ospreys
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