Photo: RFU Archive
Some 32 teams will compete in an expanded British & Irish Cup in the fourth year of the cross-border competition.
Title holders Munster ‘A’ have been drawn in Pool 7 alongside Aberavon, Plymouth Albion and Rotherham Titans, while last year’s runners-up Cross Keys are in Pool 4 with local rivals Newport plus Connacht and Championship newcomers Newcastle Falcons.
The teams, from the four home nations, are drawn in eight pools of four, with only the pool winners qualifying for the knockout stages.
In addition to 12 teams being added to the competition, another format switch sees clubs now face each other home and away in the pool stages.
The participating teams comprise the 12 teams from the RFU Championship; the development teams from the four Irish provinces; the top four teams from Scotland’s RBS Premier Division 1 last season; and the 12 teams from Wales’ Principality Premiership.
Joining the competition for their debut season are Bridgend Ravens, Bedwas, Stirling County, Carmarthen Quins, Dundee HSFP, Newcastle Falcons, Jersey, and Gala.
The competition will now take place over nine rounds and will align with ERC weekends. Competition Manager Chris Burns said: “These changes reflect the commitment of all the Unions and clubs to help grow the profile of the B&I Cup within the rugby calendar.”
The pool games will take place as follows: Round 1 – 12-14 October; Round 2 – 19-21 October; Round 3 – 7-9 December; Round 4 – 14-16 December; Round 5 – 11-13 January; and Round 6 – 19 January.
The quarter-finals will be played the weekend of 5-7 April; the semi-finals 26-28 April; and the final Friday 17 May (TBC).
2012-13 British & Irish Cup - Pools
Pool 1 – Bristol Rugby, Bridgend Ravens, Cardiff and Ulster
Round 1: Cardiff v Bristol Rugby and Ulster v Bridgend Ravens
Round 2: Bridgend Ravens v Cardiff and Bristol Rugby v Ulster
Round 3: Bridgend Ravens v Bristol Rugby and Ulster v Cardiff
Round 4: Bristol Rugby v Bridgend Ravens and Cardiff v Ulster
Round 5: Cardiff v Bridgend Ravens and Ulster v Bristol Rugby
Round 6: Bridgend Ravens v Ulster and Bristol Rugby v Cardiff
Pool 2 – Bedford Blues, Bedwas, Neath and Stirling County
Round 1: Bedwas v Bedford Blues and Stirling County v Neath
Round 2: Bedford Blues v Stirling County and Neath v Bedwas
Round 3: Neath v Bedford Blues and Stirling County v Bedwas
Round 4 Bedford Blues v Neath and Bedwas v Stirling County
Round 5: Bedwas v Neath and Stirling County v Bedford Blues
Round 6: Bedford Blues v Bedwas and Neath v Stirling County
Pool 3 – Carmarthen Quins, Dundee HSFP, Cornish Pirates and Swansea
Round 1: Cornish Pirates v Carmarthen Quins and Swansea v Dundee HSFP
Round 2: Carmarthen Quins v Swansea and Dundee HSFP v Cornish Pirates
Round 3: Carmarthen Quins v Dundee HSFP and Cornish Pirates v Swansea
Round 4: Dundee HSFP v Carmarthen Quins and Swansea v Cornish Pirates
Round 5: Cornish Pirates v Dundee HSFP and Swansea v Carmarthen Quins
Round 6: Carmarthen Quins v Cornish Pirates and Dundee HSFP v Swansea
Pool 4 – Connacht, Cross Keys, Newcastle Falcons and Newport
Round 1: Newcastle Falcons v Cross Keys and Newport v Connacht
Round 2: Connacht v Newcastle Falcons and Cross Keys v Newport
Round 3: Cross Keys v Connacht and Newcastle Falcons v Newport
Round 4: Connacht v Cross Keys and Newport v Newcastle Falcons
Round 5: Newcastle Falcons v Connacht and Newport v Cross Keys
Round 6: Connacht v Newport and Cross Keys v Newcastle Falcons
Pool 5 – Jersey, Leeds Carnegie, Leinster and Pontypridd
Round 1: Jersey v Pontypridd and Leinster v Leeds Carnegie
Round 2: Leeds Carnegie v Jersey and Pontypridd v Leinster
Round 3: Leeds Carnegie v Pontypridd and Leinster v Jersey
Round 4: Jersey v Leinster and Pontypridd v Leeds Carnegie
Round 5: Jersey v Leeds Carnegie and Leinster v Pontypridd
Round 6: Leeds Carnegie v Leinster and Pontypridd v Jersey
Pool 6 – Gala, Llanelli, London Scottish and Moseley
Round 1: Gala v London Scottish and Moseley v Llanelli
Round 2: Llanelli v Gala and London Scottish v Moseley
Round 3: Gala v Moseley and London Scottish v Llanelli
Round 4: Llanelli v London Scottish and Moseley v Gala
Round 5: Gala v Llanelli and Moseley v London Scottish
Round 6: Llanelli v Moseley and London Scottish v Gala
Pool 7 – Aberavon, Munster, Plymouth Albion and Rotherham Titans
Round 1: Aberavon v Rotherham Titans and Plymouth Albion v Munster
Round 2: Munster v Aberavon and Rotherham Titans v Plymouth Albion
Round 3: Aberavon v Plymouth Albion and Rotherham Titans v Munster
Round 4: Munster v Rotherham Titans and Plymouth Albion v Aberavon
Round 5: Aberavon v Munster and Plymouth Albion v Rotherham Titans
Round 6: Munster v Plymouth Albion and Rotherham Titans v Aberavon
Pool 8 – Doncaster Knights, Llandovery, Melrose and Nottingham Rugby
Round 1: Doncaster Knights v Melrose and Llandovery v Nottingham Rugby
Round 2: Melrose v Llandovery and Nottingham Rugby v Doncaster Knights
Round 3: Llandovery v Doncaster Knights and Nottingham Rugby v Melrose
Round 4: Doncaster Knights v Llandovery and Melrose v Nottingham
Round 5: Doncaster Knights v Nottingham and Llandovery v Melrose
Round 6: Melrose v Doncaster Knights and Nottingham v Llandovery
This will be the fourth year of the competition with Cornish Pirates, Bristol Rugby and Munster previous winners.