Cardiff Blues face a mouth-watering home Welsh derby with Scarlets in the opening round of the 2014/15 LV=Cup after the fixtures for the competition were announced today.
Mark Hammett’s men kick-off the competition by entertaining the men from the Parc y Scarlets in Round 1 before a long trip to the north east of England in Round 2 to face Newcastle. The Falcons have confirmed this game will be played on Friday, November 7.
Cardiff Blues will again hit the road in the New Year in Round 3 to face Dai Young’s Wasps before finishing up with a home clash in Round 4 with English powerhouse side Leicester Tigers.
Reigning LV= Cup champions Exeter Chiefs will kick-off their title defence at Rodney Parade, home of Newport Gwent-Dragons.
The Chiefs lifted the LV= Cup trophy in front of a sell-out home crowd in March after Sandy Park was named as the Final venue in October 2013. Victory was secured with a 15-8 win over Premiership champions Northampton Saints, concluding a fantastic LV= rugby weekend in Exeter, which included a festival in the City Centre attended by more than 2,000 people.
In Pool 2, the Saints will open their 2014/15 LV= Cup campaign against Newcastle Falcons at Franklin's Gardens as they look to go one better following last year's Final defeat.
Bath, who were knocked out of the competition in the semi-final stage, will host newly-promoted London Welsh at The Rec in the opening round. The teams last met in 2012/13, with each claiming victory in their respective home league fixtures.
In one of five Premiership head-to-heads during the opening weekend, Saracens will welcome London rivals and 2013 LV= Cup winners Harlequins to Allianz Park. London Irish will host Leicester Tigers, completing Round 1 of the competition which is credited for helping develop the next generation of international stars including LV= Breakthrough Player Award winners Jack Nowell, Jonny May and Ollie Devoto.
Commenting on the fixture announcement, Claire Jeromson, LV= Head of Sponsorship, said: "This will be our sixth year as sponsors of the LV= Cup, and the competition has gone from strength to strength. Last year we saw some great rugby from some exciting new talent, and a memorable Final in Exeter. With the 2015 Rugby World Cup getting ever closer it's a great time for the young players to push through in the competition and make their mark this season.”
Newport Gwent Dragons
2014/15 LV= Cup fixtures
Round 1 – 31 October/01/02 November
Bath Rugby v London Welsh
Gloucester Rugby v Ospreys
Newport Gwent Dragons v Exeter Chiefs
Saracens v Harlequins - Sunday November 2, KO 13:00. Live on Sky Sports
Cardiff Blues v Scarlets*
London Irish v Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons
Sale Sharks v Wasps
*Note from RFU on LV= Cup Round 1 fixture clash with GUINNESS PRO12 Round 7: “The WRU is currently in negotiations with the regions regarding the Participation Agreement for the upcoming season. Once those negotiations have concluded, they will address the potential clash for Welsh clubs in Round 1 of the LV= Cup, the dates of which were agreed by all LV= Cup stakeholders back in April 2014.”
Round 2 – 07/08/09 November
Exeter Chiefs v Bath Rugby
Harlequins v Newport Gwent Dragons
London Welsh v Gloucester Rugby
Ospreys v Saracens
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks - Sunday, November 9, KO 15:15. Live on Sky Sports
Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues – Friday, November 7
Scarlets v Northampton Saints
Wasps v London Irish
Round 3 – 30/31 January/01 February
Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester Rugby
Harlequins v Bath Rugby
London Welsh v Saracens
Ospreys v Newport Gwent Dragons
Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks
Scarlets v London Irish
Wasps v Cardiff Blues
Round 4 – 06/07/08 February
Bath Rugby v Ospreys
Gloucester Rugby v Harlequins
Newport Gwent Dragons v London Welsh
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs
Cardiff Blues v Leicester Tigers
Northampton Saints v Wasps
London Irish v Newcastle Falcons
Sale Sharks v Scarlets
Semi Finals – 13/14/15 March
LV= Cup Final - 22 March (venue to be confirmed).
- English clubs have been allocated to the 4 Pools based on their finishing positions from the preceding season's Premiership competition.
- The Welsh Regions have been allocated based on their standing in the Guinness Pro 12 and to avoid repeating fixtures resulting from the EPCR draws.
- Teams in Pool 1 play teams in Pool 4; teams in Pool 2 play teams in Pool 3
- The pool winner with the best playing record will be at home against the pool winner with the fourth best playing record in Semi Final 1.
- The Pool Winner with the second best playing record will be at home against the pool winner with the third best playing record in Semi Final 2.