Friday, October 26, 2007

Tigers' Anglo-Welsh defence kicks off at The Rec

The competition will again be contested by the 12 Guinness Premiership clubs and the four Welsh Magners League regions.

Three rounds of matches will be played in the four-team group stages at club grounds before the semi-finals at a venue to be confirmed and the Twickenham final to be held on Saturday 22 March and Saturday 12 April 2008 respectively.

Cardiff Blues, Sale Sharks, Leeds Carnegie and Saracens are all in action on Friday evening whilst reigning champions Leicester Tigers start their defence of the cup against old rivals Bath Rugby at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.

EDF Energy Cup finalists the Ospreys, who lost 41-35 to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham last April, kick off their campaign against Worcester Warriors at Sixways on Saturday, in a match that will be televised by BBC.

Worcester have struggled in the first six matches of the Guinness Premiership. But they will be desperate to do well against Welsh opposition under their former Wales coach and assistant coach Mike Ruddock and Clive Griffiths.

Ruddock and Griffiths have also coached at Swansea - part of the Ospreys region - in their time.

Kevin Hopkins, Ospreys' director of rugby, said: "We enjoyed the competition last season. It warmed up as it went on and our game against Leicester in the final was something special, even if the result wasn't the one we wanted.

"We have two away games this time, which will be a challenge. But we are looking forward to giving it our best shot and we'll see where that takes us.''

Philippe Saint Andre, director of rugby of Sale Sharks, told the RFU: "We made the EDF Energy Cup Semi Finals last season and it was a great experience.

"It will be tough this year as Cardiff Blues, Bath Rugby and Leicester Tigers are all good sides in our pool and we have only one home game, but we will be giving it our best shot at Cardiff on Friday evening before preparing for the Bath Rugby game at Edgeley Park on November 2nd.”

Ian McGeechan, director of rugby at London Wasps, said: “It’s the first cross border encounter of the season and it's good experience for the players to play against teams with different styles outside of the Guinness Premiership.

"It’s good to have the focus back on the clubs and the domestic stage because they were an instrumental part of the World Cup preparing the players for the tournament.“

Welsh sides are riding high in the Magners League with the Blues, Scarlets, Ospreys and Dragons filling the top four positions - though they have each played two matches more than the rest!

Roger Lewis, WRU Group chief executive, said: "Our regions have been leading the way in the Magners League but the Anglo-Welsh games are a particular highlight in the regional calendar.

"Wales are playing the world champions, South Africa in November and so this opportunity to play against members of England ’s great World Cup final team is particularly exciting."

EDF Energy's spokesperson reported that last season's tournament was "the highest scoring top-level domestic competition", with an average of five tries a match.

EDF Energy Cup Fixtures 2007/2008

Round 1

Group A Saturday 27 Oct, 5.30pm, Newport Gwent Dragons v London Wasps, S4C
Group A Saturday 27 Oct, 3.00pm, Gloucester Rugby v Newcastle Falcons

Group B Saturday 27 Oct, 2.15pm, Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers
Group B Friday 26 Oct, 7.10pm, Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks, BBC Wales

Group C Sunday 28 Oct, 3.00pm, London Irish v Harlequins
Group C Saturday 27 Oct, 2.30pm, Worcester Warriors v Ospreys, BBC One (Network)

Group D Sunday 28 Oct, 3.10pm, Bristol Rugby v Llanelli Scarlets, BBC 2 & BBC Wales
Group D Friday 26 Oct, 8.00pm, Leeds Carnegie v Saracens

Round 2

Group A Sunday 4 Nov, 3.00pm, London Wasps v Gloucester Rugby
Group A Saturday 3 Nov, 5.30pm, Newcastle Falcons v Newport Gwent Dragons, S4C

Group B Saturday 3 Nov, 2.30pm, Leicester Tigers v Cardiff Blues, BBC One (Network)
Group B, Friday 2 Nov, 7.45pm, Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby

Group C Saturday 3 Nov, 3.00pm, Harlequins v Worcester Warriors
Group C Sunday 4 Nov, 4.10pm, Ospreys v London Irish, S4C

Group D Friday 2 Nov, 7.10pm, Llanelli Scarlets v Leeds Carnegie, BBC Wales
Group D Sunday 4 Nov, 3.00pm, Saracens v Bristol Rugby

Round 3 – 30 November/1/2 December

London Wasps v Newcastle Falcons, Causeway Stadium (TBC)
Newport-Gwent Dragons v Gloucester Rugby, Rodney Parade (TBC)

Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks, Welford Road (TBC)
Bath Rugby v Cardiff Blues, The Recreation Ground (TBC)

Harlequins v Ospreys, The Stoop (TBC)
London Irish v Worcester Warriors, Madejski Stadium (TBC)

Llanelli Scarlets v Saracens, Stradey Park (TBC)
Bristol Rugby v Leeds Carnegie, Memorial Ground (TBC)


SF1 Sat 22 March 2008, 2.30pm, venue TBC (Live on BBC 1)
SF2 Sat 22 March 2008, 5.15pm, venue TBC (Live on BBC 2)


Sat 12 April 2008, 2.30pm, Twickenham Stadium (BBC)

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