Doncaster Knights have been drawn against near neighbours Nottingham Rugby in the second successive season in the British and Irish Cup Pool Stages. Both Championship sides will be joined in Group 8 by Melrose and Llandovery respectively.
Some 32 teams will now compete in an expanded British & Irish Cup in the fourth year of the cross-border competition which will now include financial rewards for RFU Championship clubs who reach the knock-out stages (detail of the prize pot has yet to be released).
The teams, from the four home nations, are drawn in eight pools of four, with only the pool winners qualifying for the knockout stages.
In addition to 12 teams being added to the competition, another format switch sees clubs now face each other home and away in the pool stages.
The participating teams comprise the 12 teams from the RFU Championship; the development teams from the four Irish provinces; the top four teams from Scotland’s RBS Premier Division 1; and the 12 teams from Wales’ Principality Premiership.
The competition will now take place over nine rounds and will align with ERC weekends. Competition Manager Chris Burns said: “These changes reflect the commitment of all the Unions and clubs to help grow the profile of the B&I Cup within the rugby calendar.”
Brett Davey’s men kick-off their Cup campaign with a home tie in October with their Scottish counterparts Melrose, before travelling down the road to Meadow Lane. The Knights will then face back-to-back festive fixtures with Llandovery in a long trip to deepest West Wales – prior to the home tie which will host the Club’s Christmas functions.
Doncaster Knights 2012-13 British & Irish Cup Fixtures:
Oct 13 Melrose RFC (H) Sat 2:30pm
Oct 19 Nottingham Rugby (A) Fri 7:45pm
Dec 8 Llandovery (A) Sat 2:30pm
Dec 15 Llandovery (H) Sat 2:30pm
Jan 12 Nottingham Rugby (H) Sat 2:30pm
Jan 19 Melrose RFC (A) Sat 2:00pm
The quarter-finals will be played the weekend of 5-7 April; the semi-finals 26-28 April; and the final Friday 17 May (TBC).