- Third year of competition starts on Wednesday
- Former winners Bristol Rugby and Cornish Pirates go head-to-head
Photo: RFU Archive
The British & Irish Cup returns on Wednesday with a clash between previous champions as inaugural winners, Cornish Pirates, play host to Bristol, who beat Bedford in May to claim their first silverware since 2004.
Now in its third year, the B&I Cup will once again involve twelve teams from the English RFU Championship, six from the Welsh Principality Premiership, Irish provinces Munster, Leinster and Ulster and three Scottish sides, Melrose, Currie and Ayr.
Only Championship sides will be involved in the midweek action, though, with a number of mouth-watering local derbies to look forward to.
Newcomers begin with All-Exiles tie
RFU Championship newcomers London Scottish will take part in the tournament for the first time and face an all-Exiles tie against London Welsh. Meanwhile, Leeds kick off against Rotherham, who beat them in the league less than a fortnight ago, while Esher will not relish a trip to Bedford, having recently suffered a 50-point beating at the hands of the Blues. Elsewhere, Moseley play Plymouth and Nottingham face Doncaster at Meadow Lane.
The B&I Cup has switched to a cross-pool format for this season - meaning each club gets two home and two away games.
As a result, the teams in Pool One will face Pool Two sides, Pool Three will take on Pool Four and Pool Five tackle Pool Six, with the winners of each group and best two runners-up progressing to the quarter-finals.
Round 1 fixtures involving the Celtic sides will be played on November 19.