Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks will kick off the brand new Premiership Rugby Cup competition when it is launched on Friday 26 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, semi-finals and Final.
The first weekend sees two matches live on BT Sport with Saracens hosting Leicester Tigers on Saturday 27th and Exeter Chiefs making the trip to Newcastle Falcons the next day.
The full set of Premiership Rugby Cup fixtures will be available here
The Premiership Rugby Cup will comprise three pools of four teams each and will kick off with the first three pool rounds starting on the last weekend of October and the last round in the New Year.
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.
- New competition to be called Premiership Rugby Cup
- Prize money in every match for the winning team
- Four rounds followed by semi-final and Final
- 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,” said Premiership Rugby Chief Executive, Mark McCafferty.
“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 previous Anglo-Welsh Cup and some of the most 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 Cup format with young players and coaches experiencing the challenge of bigger crowds and TV exposure.
“An audience of more than 1.3m 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.”
Holders Exeter Chiefs kick off the defence of their title 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.
“These are important games of rugby as you are putting an Exeter Chiefs shirt on. We expect the guys to go out and play well every time and that formula has been pretty successful for us so far with us getting to Finals and winning it last year.
“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.
Baxter is a big fan of the Derby Day concept adding: “We play both Bath Rugby and Bristol Bears in the pool stages which creates two brilliant derbies for us – great for both sets of supporters too. I’m really looking forward to all four rounds – they are quality fixtures for us and we can use them to develop our players.”
- Round 4 Televised matches to be selected following the end of Round 3