Having spent most of July sorting out a house in Galway and getting it kited out with cable and broadband I can now catch up with some of the items that I missed over the past few weeks – so please bear with me if some of this is old news.
First up we have a rather exciting re-jig of the “good idea but poorly executed” British and Irish Cup with the competition now being expanded to 32 teams with eight pools of four for the coming season.
All 12 Welsh Premier Division clubs will compete along with the 12 English Championship sides and with four Scottish clubs taking part and Connacht’s A team added, the Irish and Scots have an extra team each.
The competition now features home and away matches, reverts to actually playing the teams in the same group and only the top team from each group will go through to the quarter finals.
The matches mostly take place during the Heineken Cup weekends though, unfortunately as we’ll find out tomorrow, they haven’t been able to mirror the Heineken Cup fixtures with regards to home and away. I.e. some weekend’s we’ll have both the Ravens and Ulster at home and some of the weekend’s they’ll both be away!
However, it’s all a big improvement on what’s gone before and it’s good to see Connacht involved, giving some of their young talent a chance to test themselves at a level higher than the AIL.
The Pools are as follows:
Pool 1: Cardiff, Bridgend, Bristol, Ulster
Pool 2: Bedford, Bedwas, Stirling County, Neath
Pool 3: Carmarthen Quins, Dundee HSFP, Cornish Pirates, Swansea
Pool 4: Connacht, Cross Keys, Newport, Newcastle
Pool 5: Jersey, Pontypridd, Leinster, Leeds
Pool 6: Gala, Llanelli, London Scottish, Moseley
Pool 7: Aberavon, Munster, Plymouth, Rotherham
Pool 8: Doncaster, Llandovery, Melrose, Nottingham
The Ravens games are on the following weekend’s and I suspect the date, venues and kick off times will be confirmed shortly after the Heineken Cup fixtures are announced tomorrow.
12-14 Oct 2012: Ulster Ravens v Bridgend
19-21 Oct 2012: Bristol v Ulster Ravens
7-9 Dec 2012: Ulster Ravens v Cardiff
14-16 Dec 2012: Cardiff v Ulster Ravens
11-13 Jan 2013: Ulster Ravens v Bristol
19-21 Jan 2013: Bridgend v Ulster Ravens