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Rugby News

A new look for domestic cup in 2018/19

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The new Premiership Rugby Cup will kick off during the last weekend in October.

Involving the 12 Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs and with total prize money of more than half a million pounds, the Premiership Rugby Cup will be played over four pool rounds, including the Derby Day weekend, with semi-finals and final to follow.

Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks play in the opening fixture on Friday, October 26 and the first weekend sees two matches live on BT Sport with Saracens hosting Leicester Tigers on Saturday, October 27 and then Exeter Chiefs at Newcastle Falcons the next day.

For a full set of Premiership Rugby Cup fixtures click here.

There are three rounds on successive weekends in October/November and then the New Year round will see Derby Day clashes for the 12 teams before the Cup moves into the knockout phase with the three pool winners and the best runner-up moving into the semi-finals.

The Derby Day round is split over two weekends, ensuring all players receive a mid-season break.

There is prize money in every match for the winning team, with the Final to be staged at the home ground of the highest-seeded team.

“The Cup has been a highly successful competition in recent years in helping develop the best new Premiership and England players, in front of big crowds and TV audiences,” Mark McCafferty, Premiership Rugby chief executive, said.

“The pathway for young players is now clear, linking the Under-18s League, the Premiership Rugby Shield and now the Premiership Rugby Cup into one strong route towards Gallagher Premiership Rugby, European competitions and Test matches.

“Many Test players, including Owen Farrell, George Ford and Maro Itoje, all made their senior debuts in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and some of the recent Breakthrough Players of the Year have been Jack Nowell, Jonny May and Adam Radwan.

“In addition, the competition has seen many different club coaches taking responsibility for the Cup team and developing their experience and skills in charge.

"This focus on new playing and coaching talent will continue in the new format with young players and coaches experiencing the challenge of bigger crowds and TV exposure.

“An audience of more than 1.3million watched live coverage of the Cup on BT Sport last season, a 37% increase year on year. This competition is fundamental to developing young players for Gallagher Premiership Rugby and European action in front of big crowds at matches with a more intense atmosphere.”

Cup holders Exeter Chiefs kick off the defence against Newcastle Falcons, and Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter said: “You need to run a strong squad to be successful in Gallagher Premiership Rugby and in Europe so the Premiership Rugby Cup is crucial for those squad players as they are trying to prove themselves.

“The Cup competition is a perfect bridge to Gallagher Premiership Rugby and Europe for a player and we believe if players have shown good form in the Cup competition they will show good form in Premiership and Europe.”

Round 4 Televised matches to be selected following the end of Round 3 in November.