RUGBY UNION: New look British and Irish Cup has cash promise

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DONCASTER Knights will do battle with near neighbours Nottingham Rugby for the second successive season in the pool stages of the revamped British and Irish Cup.

In addition to the competition being expanded to 32 clubs next season, teams will play the other three sides in their group home and away with only the eight group winners progressing to the quarter-finals. For the first time in the history of the competition, launched three years ago, Championship clubs such as Knights will receive financial rewards - not yet finalised - for reaching the KO stages.

“The changes reflect the commitment of all the Unions and clubs to help grow the profile of the B&I Cup within the rugby calendar,” said competition manager Chris Burns.

Knights will make the relatively short trip down to Meadow Lane on Friday, October 19, and entertain the Greens in the return on Saturday, January 12.

Both Championship sides will be joined in Group 8 by Melrose and Llandovery. Knights will open their campaign at home to Melrose - who qualify as one of the top four sides in last season’s RBS Premier Division One - on October 13, and play them away in their last group game on January 19.

Knights face back-to-back fixtures with Llandovery, one of 12 teams from Wales’ Principality Premiership, in December.

They will make the long trip to West Wales on December 8 and entertain the Welsh side at Castle Park the following weekend.

The quarter-finals will be played the weekend of 5-7 April. with the semi-final scheduled for the weekend of 26-28 April.

The final has provisionally been arranged for Friday, May 17.