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Parker Pen Shield News

Parker Pen Shield News

London Irish and Pontypridd have proved something of knock-out specialists this season – but something will have to give at The Kassam Stadium, Oxford, when they clash in the semi-finals on 27 April

London Irish meet Northampton Saints in the English Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday (20 April) and Pontypridd will take on Llanelli in the Welsh Cup final at the Millennium Stadium on 18 May after beating Cardiff 31-25 in the last four last weekend to keep their domestic and European double dreams alive.

Sandwiched by those two occasions are the European high profile Parker Pen Shieldsemii-finals, Gloucester and Sale Sharks meeting in a strictly English showdown at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton, in the second semi-final on 28 April (kick-off 2.00pm).

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It is great to be in one cup final already but there is an extra edge to the Parker Pen Shield as the winner gets an automatic place in next season’s Heineken Cup, said Pontypridd coach Lynn Howells.
Our only concern, as we do not have the depth to our squad of many other clubs, is staying free of injury. At full strength, we feel we are capable of giving anyone a game. We will not be going to watch London Irish before the semi-final as they have been heavily televised this season and we have plenty of video footage to work on over the next couple of weeks.

And a measure of the extremely high quality of the semi-finals is crystal clear.
In addition to providing those English and Welsh cup finalists in London Irish and Pontypridd, London Irish are currently second in the Premiership, Gloucester third and Sale Sharks fourth – all in contention, one way or another, to qualify for the 2002 / 2003 Heineken Cup.