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Page last updated at 20:51 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 21:51 UK

Anglo-Welsh cup poised for revamp

Mark McCafferty
Mark McCafferty is in talks with English and Welsh rugby chiefs

The EDF Energy Cup is set for a major revamp next season, including switching the competition to Test-match windows and adding a second-tier tournament.

English Premier rugby chief executive Mark McCafferty told BBC Wales' Scrum V Radio the plans are afoot.

He said: "It would have to fit in around the international windows.

"That would be in the autumn and Six Nations international windows. That means it would be a different type of competition."

McCafferty says any overhaul would need careful attention to its commercial promotion, but believes organisers could overcome the absence of England and Welsh Test stars.

He added: "There are a lot of top quality players involved in both leagues and while some of the internationals would be absent on Test duty that doesn't mean to say we couldn't have a strong, vibrant competition involving the clubs and regions.

"Will it be less attractive? Will it be different? It will certainly be different. But it will also give an opportunity for emerging players to get high quality competition against tough opposition and that's attractive to supporters.

"We need to promote and position that correctly and price it appropriately, but there's an attractive competition to be had and that's what we're working towards."

This season's tournament kicks off on Friday with under-strength Newport Gwent Dragons facing equally depleted Newcastle at Rodney Parade amid wide variations in teams' strength in the opening round.

Similar problems have dogged the competition from the outset and is among the reasons that have led to the new format being proposed to the Rugby Football Union and their Welsh counterparts.

McCafferty said: "I hope and expect the Anglo-Welsh Cup can continue. That's what we're planning for.

"I hope there'll be a couple of changes to it. We're looking at some possibilities and talking through those at the moment with the RFU and WRU.

"I'm very hopeful it will continue to involve all 12 Premiership teams and the four Welsh regions.

Anglo-Welsh rugby goes back a long way and that's attractive from a rugby and commercial point of view

Mark McCafferty
"We're looking at the possibility of including a limited number of National Division One clubs from England and whether we can establish a second-tier Anglo-Welsh competition involving the other National League One clubs and Welsh Premier Division clubs.

"But that's all on the drawing board at the moment and it's what we're talking through with the two unions.

"Anglo-Welsh rugby goes back a long way and that's attractive from a rugby and commercial point of view and we hope to continue that.

"It would need to change format somewhat, but that doesn't mean to say we can't build a new vibrant competition on the back of what's been achieved over the last three years or so."

see also
Ricoh Arena to host EDF Cup semis
02 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Anglo-Welsh Cup
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Guinness Premiership results
09 Aug 06 |  Results
Magners Celtic League
11 Apr 07 |  Rugby Union
Welsh Premiership
11 Apr 07 |  Welsh
National League 1 results
09 Aug 06 |  Results

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