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The new format explained
Now in its second year, the Premiership Rugby Cup sees England’s 12 top flight clubs grouped into three pools of four, with the top team in each and the best runner-up across the pools qualifying for the semi-finals.
The Final will be staged – once again – at the stadium of the highest-seeded side.
This season sees the pool stages occupy the first four weekends of the season – starting on 20 September – before Gallagher Premiership Rugby kicks off on 18 October
In a player-welfare driven initiative the structure of the Premiership Rugby Cup ensures that our players will receive a two-week winter break at the end of January / start of February, when the two semi-finals are staged on different weekends.
The teams in each group will play each other once over the first three weekends, before the compelling Derby Day weekend once again returns for the final round of action, starting on October 11.
A pathway for youngster
“We’ve already seen the benefit of getting young guys playing regularly in the Premiership Rugby Cup so we’ll use it as that sort of opportunity again,” said Phil Dowson, coach of defending Champions Northampton Saints.
“We fundamentally want to win it and we’ll put pressure on those young guys to perform and make sure they put their hands up like the guys did last year to play Premiership Rugby.
“I was incredibly impressed with the way our guys came through and performed in the Cup last season, I thought it spoke volumes about the academy system we have at Saints.
“The strength of character of some of those young guys was impressive – every single one of them stepped up and played well and a lot of that led to them playing in the Premiership later that year.”
Harlequins have been handed the honour of kicking off this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup in front of the live BT Sport cameras as the Bristol Bears arrive at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday 20 September.
In an action-packed first round Gloucester Rugby and newly-promoted Gallagher Premiership Rugby outfit London Irish will go head-to-head at Kingsholm in the other Pool 2 game on the first weekend.
Elsewhere, Pool 3 will see Bath Rugby take on West Country rivals Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, with the game also live on BT Sport, while Worcester Warriors face Leicester Tigers at Sixways.