The Anglo-Welsh Cup (Welsh: Cwpan Eingl-Gymreig), was a cross-border rugby union knock-out cup competition that featured the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs and the four Welsh regions. The competition was seen by most clubs as a tournament to experiment with younger and upcoming players, with many regular team starters rested from the match day squad. Prior to 2005 the cup was an all-English competition, and before the establishment of the English league structure in 1987 represented the premier competition in English club rugby.
|Replaced by||Premiership Rugby Cup|
|No. of teams||16|
|Exeter (2nd title)|
|Most titles||Bath (10 titles)|
|TV partner(s)||BT Sport (live)|
Channel 5 (highlights)
|Official website||Anglo-Welsh Cup|
Originally known as the RFU Club Competition, for which no cup was awarded nor sponsorship sought, it was renamed the John Player Cup in 1976. The first competition took place in 1972, and Gloucester were crowned inaugural champions, defeating Moseley in the final, 17–6. Coventry won two titles in succession in 1973 and 1974, and after Bedford's championship win in 1975, Gosforth also won two in succession, in 1976 and 1977. Gloucester won their second title in 1978. The competition was then dominated by Leicester, who won three championships in a row, until Gloucester won their third title in 1982. This was shared with Moseley after a 12–12 draw in extra time, and was the only time the cup was shared between two teams. Leicester were again in the final in 1983, but lost to Bristol. Leicester's record run was then broken by Bath from 1984 to 1987, who won the cup four times in a row, until Harlequins won their first in 1988.
The name of the cup was changed to the Pilkington Cup for the 1989 tournament. Bath picked up from where they left off in the late 1980s, going onto win another six times from 1989 to 1996. Harlequins won their second title in 1991, and Leicester added to their three championships in 1993 and again in 1997. The cup changed its name again after Leicesters' 1997 victory, becoming the Tetley's Bitter Cup for the 1998 season. Saracens won their first title, defeating Wasps in 1998. Wasps were again in the final in 1999, and defeated Newcastle to claim their first championship. Wasps also won the 2000 competition.
In 2001, the name of the tournament was changed to the Powergen Cup. Newcastle won the first Powergen Cup, defeating the Harlequins 30–27. London Irish won it for their first time the following season, and Gloucester won it for the first time since 1982 in 2003. Newcastle won in 2004, and in 2005, Leeds Tykes defeated Bath to win it for the first time.
2005–2018: Anglo-Welsh CupEdit
Starting in 2005–06, the cup featured a new format including only the twelve teams from the Guinness Premiership and the four regional Welsh clubs. Teams from the Championship (formerly National Division One) and below played in the then Powergen National Trophy, which from 2009–10 season became the British and Irish Cup and features championship teams.
In place of the knock-out format, the 16 clubs are placed in four pools with three English clubs and one Welsh club. The pool stages of the Anglo-Welsh Cup tournament feature one game against each team. The winners of each of the four groups progress to the semi-finals. The pools will stay as they are for the following season as well, with home and away fixtures reversed and the club relegated from the Premiership's place taken by the club promoted from the Championship.
In addition to increased TV revenue (the revised Powergen Cup had a new broadcasting agreement with BBC Sport) and a possible boost to matchday income, the Powergen Cup also offered its winner, if they were a Premiership club, qualification to the even more lucrative Heineken Cup competition. As base compensation, all 16 Powergen clubs are guaranteed £250,000 each, with a prize fund of up to £200,000 available to the semi-finalists.
The Welsh clubs' inclusion initially caused them to be expelled from the Celtic League. Scottish and Irish officials were angered that the Welsh clubs had apparently consented to Powergen Cup fixtures on the same weekend as Celtic League matches. The political fallout resulted in the purported expulsion of the Welsh clubs from the league. Eventually, a compromise was reached, and the Welsh clubs were readmitted.
Interest in the Powergen Cup was high during the first two rounds. Over 100,000 spectators attend matches, while the television audience peaked at 1.2 million on BBC2 for the match between the Newcastle Falcons and the Llanelli Scarlets. Overall, the 2005–06 cup drew a 12% attendance boost in the group stages over the previous year's competition.
However, Powergen decided to withdraw all of its rugby sponsorship after the conclusion of the 2005–06 cup competitions. The next sponsor of the Anglo-Welsh Cup was EDF Energy, in a deal that ran until 2009. The latest deal with LV ran through the 2014–15 competition.
There was no Anglo-Welsh Cup competition in the 2015–16 season due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup being played in England which resulted in the late start to the 2015–16 English Premiership season. The competition returns in the 2016-17 season with BT Sport taking over the live TV rights from Sky Sports and will show 2 matches per round including 2 semi-finals and will also show the final. Highlights are shown on Channel 5.
2018–present: Premiership Rugby CupEdit
In the 2017–18 Anglo-Welsh Cup, all four of the Welsh regions finished bottom of their pools. In May 2018, the Welsh Rugby Union announced that they were going to be setting up a Welsh under-23s competition for their regions and would thus be unable to commit to Anglo-Welsh Cup games. On 10 May, Premiership Rugby Limited, which organises the English top flight, then announced that the Anglo-Welsh Cup would be replaced by the Premiership Rugby Cup, which would be solely for the English Premiership clubs. The Cup was created to continue to allow younger English Premiership players to compete in more matches at Premiership stadiums.
The format for the competition will be the 12 teams from the Premiership grouped into three pools of four with at least one club having one local derby match in their groups. The draw will be made at the BT Tower in London on 6 July 2018. The matches will be held over the end-of-year rugby union internationals and Six Nations Championship weekends. The three pool winners and the best runner-up will enter the semi-finals with home advantage given to the team with the better record in the pool stage and the final would be held at the home of the highest ranked club. The winning club will receive £500,000.
The latest sponsorship deal was with British insurance company LV, which ran for six seasons, was announced on 29 October 2009, just before the start of the 2009–10 competition and ended in 2015. Between 2006 and 2009, the competition was sponsored by EDF's UK subsidiary and referred to as the EDF Energy Cup.
List of winnersEdit
|Match went to extra time|
RFU Club Competition (1971–2005)Edit
All teams are English.
Anglo-Welsh Cup (2005–2018)Edit
|2005–06||London Wasps||26–10||Llanelli Scarlets||Twickenham||57,212|
|2009–10||Northampton Saints||30–24||Gloucester||Sixways Stadium, Worcester||12,024|||
|2010–11||Gloucester||34–7||Newcastle Falcons||Franklin's Gardens, Northampton||6,848|||
|2011–12||Leicester Tigers||26–14||Northampton Saints||Sixways Stadium, Worcester||11,895|||
|2012–13||Harlequins||32–14||Sale Sharks||Sixways Stadium, Worcester||8,100|||
|2013–14||Exeter Chiefs||15–8||Northampton Saints||Sandy Park, Exeter||10,744|||
|2014–15||Saracens||23–20||Exeter Chiefs||Franklin's Gardens, Northampton||8,865|||
|2015–16||No competition due to Rugby World Cup|
|2016–17||Leicester Tigers||16–12||Exeter Chiefs||Twickenham Stoop, London||6,834|||
|2017–18||Exeter Chiefs||28–11||Bath||Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester||8,074|
List of championsEdit
|1||Bath||10||1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996|
|2||Leicester||8||1979, 1980, 1981, 1993, 1997, 2007, 2012, 2017|
|3||Gloucester||5||1972, 1978, 1982*, 2003, 2011|
|4||Newcastle||4||1976, 1977 (as Gosforth), 2001, 2004|
|5=||Harlequins||3||1988, 1991, 2013|
|5=||Wasps||3||1999, 2000, 2006|
* 1982 title shared between Gloucester and Moseley.
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