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W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?


By Exeforever
March 20 2017

After yesterday’s game I find myself wondering about both the what and the why of this competition.

W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?


After yesterday’s game I find myself wondering about both the what and the why of this competition.

Exeter Chiefs' players stay out on the pitch for a team talk at half time before returning to the ch

Firstly Why Anglo-Welsh?

There hasn‘t been a Welsh side in the knockout stage for a couple of iterations now (just as there isn’t in the European Champs Cup) and the days when the cross border battles between Gloucester and Cardiff etc were the highlights of the season are as remote as leather rugby balls and amateurism.  So why not ditch the Welsh element and introduce the top 4 sides from the Championship and let them play their first XVs against development squads from the Premiership?

We have seen this season that Bristol have been incapable of putting on a meaningful display in the Prem and equally that London Irish, having kept most of their squad from the Prem, have hammered the Championship in contrast to their performance in last year’s Premiership.  The gulf between the two leagues is large and, I would suggest, getting larger not smaller.  Giving Championship sides a competition in which they can measure their best teams against Prem development Squads could help them to assess where they need to improve.


Secondly what is the nature of this competition and how do you ensure that Clubs respect it?

The purpose of the competition is to provide a cup contest for the A league.  Just as the Prem has the relevant European Cup the A League has the AW Cup and in an ideal world these two wouldn’t mix their personnel.  I would therefore suggest that an eligibility criterion be introduced that says that a Premiership Club may only play two players in their matchday squad who have appeared in any of their last four Premiership or European trophy games.  This would stop Clubs stacking their squad with 1st XV players at the knockout stages and ensure that participating players are indeed in a “development situation”.  This eligibility rule would not stop a Club from playing anyone returning from long term injury as they would have been most unlikely to have played in any of the 4 previous games (as described) and it would allow them to play two first team players to cover non-availability of specialist positions like front row or scrum half.  Any team unable to meet these conditions could apply for a medical joker but would have some sort of penalty applied to deter cheating (perhaps have to start 10 points down being deemed as a converted try and a penalty for bonus point purposes).  This is similar to losing a man when uncontested scrums happen.

This might also encourage “certain Clubs” to invest better in their second team structures rather than crying off A League games due to inability to raise a team…


Thirdly who plays whom?

One feature of this competition that nobody likes is the lack of control over your own destiny.  I don’t know which Kafkaesque bureaucrat invented the current pool format but it needs replacing with a straightforward system where you play the other teams in your group and the highest placed winners have the home semi-finals.


Fourthly the final location.

There were under 7000 at The Stoop yesterday.  We had 9,500 for the semi despite the brouhaha over ticket prices etc and Tigers travel in far greater numbers than Quins so we would have had close to a full house if the final had been at SP.  I appreciate that there are logistics to consider but once you know that you are in a home semi provisional planning can start and a two week window between semi and final should be enough to firm up the arrangements.  The Final should therefore be staged at the ground of the team with the best overall record in the competition with bonus points involved even at the knockout stages in order to determine this.


Fifthly the referee.

This is not a development competition for referees, or at least it shouldn’t be at the final stage.  It cannot be beyond the wit of man/PRL/RFU to put an international ref into a game like this.  Whatever one thinks of the significance of the competition in general it is one of only three finals that a Club can reach in the season and deserves to be treated as such.  There are probably seven Northern hemisphere international referees of quality at present and there were only three internationals on Saturday… 


And finally; Anglo-Welsh Cup??

Leicester Tigers' Freddie Burns kicks a penalty during the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final at Twickenham Stoop

It’s not a cup it’s a trophy.  It may be pedantic but if you’re going to call the  thing a Cup then it needs to have handles and look like a Cup not like some vase for putting flowers in.

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W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup? (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 15:34
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Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
Moorsman (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 15:37
Thanks Exeforever thumbs down

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
Lowerwatha (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 16:16
The Championship clubs are already in the British & Irish cup but agree that the zany way the competition is formatted needs looking at.
As for the final venue, why not award the final to the club that scores the most try's of the two finalists thereby encouraging running rugby.
The integrity of the competition should be enforced by introducing a workable system that ensures predominantly development teams.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
southgate (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 16:18
By certain clubs I guess you mean Bath

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
OldWing (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 17:33
Alternatively, we could have a proper cup competition - la FA Cup - and also have a proper A team competition. It does seem odd to me that English rugby doesn't have a major domestic knock out cup competition despite the acknowledged gulf between the premiership and everyone else.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
Little Plums (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 19:04
Excellent ideas there, if only the powers that be gave half thought and/or politics didn't get in the way. Maybe we should put you in charge?

One point however, the difference between a cup and a trophy is more than the shape of the prize. A cup is played for in a knockout competition (eg Anglo Welsh, Calcutta, World, F.A.) whereas a trophy is played for in a league competition (eg Six Nations, Premiership etc).

We could always weld a couple of handles on the side of the existing receptacle, if that would help?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:03:20:19:05:28 by Little Plums.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
RedExe (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 19:25
I really don't get why people have an issue with club's playing a strong team in this competition. Why was it ok for us to do that when the final was held at Sandy Park, but not OK for others to do it now? There is nowhere in the rules that state the Anglo-Welsh cup is a development competition, or is the A-League cup. Throughout this campaign pretty much all of the squad (barring, Nowell, Steenson and a couple of others) have played in the competition. We've taken the view to use the competition this season and the last time it was played as a way to give experience to younger members of the squad as well as fringe/returning players. Others though, have different priorities and will use the cup accordingly.

With regards to the setup. As discussed in another thread, whilst it would be nice to get back to the days of a national competition. That isn't going to happen. And the current setup is there to fit around the international games. So you would need to have a group stage, and there isn't enough free weekends to have a full round robin group, hence the weird nature.

The final is an issue. Unless there is a home team playing there is going to be a problem with the attendance. There realistically is only going to be a week turnaround, so I would think the final would go to whoever had the best overall record. Not perfect, but I don't think there is another way.

Finally, incentive. Ultimately, the competition used to have a place in the European Cup for the winner (our winning year, was the year this stopped), bring that back and you'l see stronger teams being played.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
LTigerFan (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 21:15
Big mistake in the write up to say it is an A League cup competition. It isn't. It is a domestic first team cup competition. It just so happens that teams have two other competitions which many see as more important targets and therefore play a weaker starting line up. It's exasperated by the fact that the format of the A league means there are only 5 games all season so the AWC provides a rare opportunity for some of the fringe players.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
Boldngrey (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 21:37
Surely if too few people want to travel to a final, the competition is not worth anything.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
Little Plums (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 21:48
Not playing it on a Sunday would be a start but that interferes with the International window.

Peter Ord
Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
Tommy Hawkeye (IP Logged)
20/03/2017 22:02
Would all this nonsense be going on had we won. We should have won the game but blew it. So let's get back on the horse and play in another final on the other side of the road. The only thing is I would like to win one at HQ at some point. Whatever the outcome the buffet on Cardinal Vaughen will be up to our usual standards

Blue feather
Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
Blue feather (IP Logged)
21/03/2017 13:34
Tommy Hawkeye
Would all this nonsense be going on had we won. We should have won the game but blew it. So let's get back on the horse and play in another final on the other side of the road. The only thing is I would like to win one at HQ at some point. Whatever the outcome the buffet on Cardinal Vaughen will be up to our usual standards
Our selection was at the Developement end of the spectrum Tigers wasn't QED

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
fatheralice (IP Logged)
21/03/2017 14:10
Interesting article - some good points raised.

It was reported in the RP at the weekend, as part of the global season restructuring, that an expanded B&I cup may replace the AW, played over the 6N weekends, as no Prem matches will take place.

Assuming the other B&I teams are also able to field quality teams, this may be a good development - however if it means we have even more mismatches with decimated squads from Wales and Scotland in particular, then it will be worse than ever.
It is not the Pro12 sides fault that they lose 50% of their players to international call ups - it is simple mathematics of 2 or 4 representative sides into one international team.

I actually prefer the idea of helping the championships sides develop - however, as ever it is down to economics - would those matches be as marketable as a bigger name side?

I don't really subscribe to the idea that this is only a topic as a result of losing- many of the points raised a valid win or lose. 7000 at a final with a week to sell the tickets is indicative that things need to change. Top seeds to host would be much better on a number of levels, however that requires the stupid pool stages to be made less random I suppose!

And no, I do not believe it was not a first team from Tigers - and so what if it were.
Had we been more accurate, and perhaps game savvy in certain positions we would have won - errors gave Tigers field position and the opportunities to score, and an experienced Burns seized on them.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
ExTeddChief (IP Logged)
22/03/2017 11:21
I like the idea of a revised B+I Cup in theory but I'm not sure how the structure would work. 12 Prem teams + 10 other British Isles sides = 22 teams competing over five weekends? Only way that works is if you throw in the top 10 Championship teams from the previous season, make it a straight knockout competition with 32 teams. Prem teams and Pro12 top 4 get seeded in the first round, all future rounds unseeded.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:03:22:12:08:22 by ExTeddChief.

Re: W(h)ither the Anglo-Welsh Cup?
PhilW2010 (IP Logged)
22/03/2017 20:43
Exeforever makes some valid points.

But I'm afraid I disagree with the comment about Referee's.

Referee's need to develop on the big stage just the same as the players, they need the experience.

Our own (Devon) young female Ref Sarah Cox is one example of how a very promising referee for the future, probably at both Premiership & International Level, could have been introduced to "the big stage" by having her Ref one of the semi-final's and/or The Final.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:03:22:20:44:50 by PhilW2010.

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