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British & Irish Cup Pools Announced

British & Irish Cup Pools Announced

Leinster, Munster and Ulster Ravens will again pit themselves against teams from England, Scotland and Wales in the 2010/11 British & Irish Cup. Ulster and Munster faced off in an all-Irish semi-final last season, before Munster lost out in the final to Cornish Pirates.

The reigning British & Irish Cup champions, Cornish Pirates, will open their title defence against newcomers to the competition in Scottish side Currie.

The RFU Championship club lifted the inaugural title in May by beating Munster 23-14.

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This coming season will see them in the same group as Currie, Newport, Plymouth Albion, Worscester Warriors and Leinster.

Munster, meanwhile, have been drawn in Pool B alongside Esher, Llanelli, Melrose, Nottingham and Bristol in what is likely to be a very difficult pool.

Beaten at the semi-final stage last time out, Ulster Ravens are in an equally tough group alongside Bedford Blues, London Welsh, Moseley, Neath and Swansea.

There will be five rounds as last season but an additional quarter-final stage has been added with the top two from each pool progressing to the last eight.

Terry Burwell, the British & Irish Cup Director, said: “The inaugural British & Irish Cup was very positively received and gave players, coaches, referees and spectators a different level of competition to what they are used to. 

“Anyone who was at the final or saw it on Sky Sports saw the appetite for cross-border cup rugby and I am sure this tournament, just like the Heineken Cup in its early days, will go from strength to strength.

“We have kept the same pool framework and reversed last season’s fixtures wherever possible as we promised and we have included a quarter-final so that there is a greater opportunity for more teams to progress to the knock-out stages.”

Pools –
Pool A: Cornish Pirates, Currie, Leinster, Newport, Plymouth Albion, Worcester Warriors

Pool B: Bristol Rugby, Esher, Llanelli, Melrose, Munster, Nottingham Rugby

Pool C: Bedford Blues, London Welsh, Moseley, Neath, Swansea, Ulster Ravens

Pool D: Ayr, Birmingham & Solihull, Doncaster Knights, Llandovery, Pontypridd, Rotherham Titans. 

Fixtures –

Round 1, December 11
Pool A: Leinster v Plymouth Albion, Currie v Cornish Pirates, Worcester Warriors v Newport
Pool B: Bristol Rugby v Nottingham Rugby, Melrose v Munster, Esher v Llanelli
Pool C: London Welsh v Moseley, Bedford Blues v Ulster Ravens, Swansea v Neath
Pool D: Birmingham & Solihull v Doncaster Knights, Rotherham Titans v Llandovery, Pontypridd v Ayr. 

Round 2, December 18
Pool A: Plymouth Albion v Newport, Cornish Pirates v Leinster, Currie v Worcester Warriors
Pool B: Melrose v Esher, Llanelli v Nottingham Rugby, Bristol Rugby v Munster
Pool C: Neath v Bedford Blues, Ulster Ravens v Moseley, London Welsh v Swansea
Pool D: Doncaster Knights v Rotherham, Ayr v Llandovery, Pontypridd v Birmingham & Solihull.

Round 3, January 15
Pool A: Cornish Pirates v Plymouth Albion, Leinster v Worcester Warriors, Currie v Newport
Pool B: Esher v Bristol Rugby, Nottingham Rugby v Munster, Llanelli v Melrose
Pool C: Bedford Blues v London Welsh, Moseley v Swansea, Ulster Ravens v Neath
Pool D: Pontypridd v Rotherham, Llandovery v Doncaster Knights, Birmingham & Solihull v Ayr.

Round 4, January 22
Pool A: Worcester Warriors v Plymouth Albion, Leinster v Currie, Newport v Cornish Pirates
Pool B: Nottingham Rugby v Melrose, Bristol Rugby v Llanelli, Munster v Esher
Pool C: Moseley v Neath, London Welsh v Ulster Ravens, Swansea v Bedford Blues
Pool D: Rotherham v Ayr, Doncaster Knights v Pontypridd, Llandovery v Birmingham & Solihull.

Round 5, February 26
Pool A: Worcester Warriors v Cornish Pirates, Plymouth Albion v Currie, Newport v Leinster*
Pool B: Esher v Nottingham Rugby, Melrose v Bristol Rugby, Munster v Llanelli*
Pool C: Bedford Blues v Moseley, Neath v London Welsh, Swansea v Ulster Ravens*
Pool D: Birmingham & Solihull v Rotherham, Ayr v Doncaster Knights, Llandovery v Pontypridd*.

NB: It was agreed by the British & Irish Cup Organising Committee that to avoid a clash with the RBS 6 Nations matches on February 26 that the Round 5 matches marked * will be played on the weekend of October 16.

Quarter-finals, March 5

Pool A winners v Pool C runners-up
Pool C winners v Pool A runners-up
Pool B winners v Pool D runners-up
Pool D winners v Pool B runners-up

Semi-finals, April 23

Final, May 7