Anglo-Welsh Cup

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Anglo-Welsh Cup
Current season, competition or edition:
2014–15 LV Cup
Sport Rugby union
Founded 1971
No. of teams 16
Countries England England
Wales Wales
Most recent champion(s) Exeter Chiefs (1st title)
Most titles Bath Rugby (10 titles)
Official website [1]

The Anglo-Welsh Cup, known for sponsorship reasons as the LV Cup (styled as the LV= Cup), is an English and Welsh rugby union knock-out cup competition featuring the twelve Aviva Premiership clubs and four Welsh Regions. The present sponsorship deal with the British insurance company LV, which runs for two seasons, was announced on 29 October 2009, just before the start of the 2009–10 competition.[1] Between 2006 and 2009 the competition was sponsored by EDF's UK subsidiary and referred to as the EDF Energy Cup. Prior to the 2005–06 season, the competition was open to all English clubs. Bath have won the cup ten times, with Leicester Tigers the second most successful club with seven, including their wins over the Ospreys in the 2006–07 final and Northampton in the 2011–12 final, and Gloucester in third place with five titles.

History[edit]

1971–2005[edit]

Originally known as the R.F.U. Club Competition, for which no Cup was awarded nor sponsorship sought, it was renamed the John Player Cup in 1976, Gosforth beating Rosslyn Park in the Final, The first competition took place in 1972, and Gloucester were crowned inaugural champions, defeating Moseley in the final, 17 to 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 1984–87, who won the John Player 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 the Leeds Tykes defeated Bath to win it for the first time.

2005–present: Anglo-Welsh Cup[edit]

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 now play for the Powergen National Trophy, and from 2009–10 Championship teams also play in the British and Irish Cup.

In place of the knock-out format, the 16 clubs are placed in four pools with 3 English clubs and 1 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 Aviva 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.[2]

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.

The Scarlets playing Bath at the Millennium Stadium

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 Newcastle Falcons v. Llanelli Scarlets match.[3] Overall, the 2005–06 cup drew a 12% attendance boost in the group stages over the previous year's competition.[4]

However, Powergen decided to withdraw all of its rugby sponsorship after the conclusion of the 2005–06 cup competitions.[5] The next sponsor of the Anglo-Welsh Cup was EDF Energy,[6] in a deal that ran until 2009. The present deal with LV runs through the 2010–11 competition.[1]

The pools (or groups) for the Powergen Cup were decided on a regional basis, consisting of three English sides geographically close to one another, and one Welsh club again divided as far as possible by their location.

List of winners[edit]

Anglo-Welsh Cup[edit]

Sponsorship[edit]

The Powergen Cup (centre) seen in the London Irish clubhouse at Sunbury in 2002. Photo by Paul Warrender

Media coverage[edit]

BBC covered this tournament from its inception up to 2009 when the rights were transferred to Sky Sports. BBC coverage was covered by their usual Rugby Union team of John Inverdale with Jeremy Guscott, Jonathan Davies, Andy Nicol and Keith Wood with commentary by Nick Mullins, Eddie Butler or Andrew Cotter with the likes of Brian Moore and Phillip Matthews with reporting by Jill Douglas or Sonja McLaughlan. Sky now show the tournament live with their main Rugby Union team of Simon Lazenby or Alex Payne with the likes of Will Greenwood, Tyrone Howe, Dewi Morris and commentary by Miles Harrison or Mark Robson with Stuart Barnes or Iueun Evans. ITV show highlights with Craig Doyle and Martin Bayfield with commentary by Bob Symonds or Martin Gillingham.

In Australia the Anglo-Welsh Cup is broadcast on Setanta Sports, and also in Asia on Setanta Sports. In New Zealand the Anglo-Welsh Cup is broadcast on The Rugby Channel.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "LV= sponsors rugby's Anglo-Welsh Tournament" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Cup resurrects Anglo-Welsh contests of old days". Times Online. 27 September 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2006. 
  3. ^ RFU[dead link]
  4. ^ "EDF Energy to sponsor UK’s premier cup competition". Rugby Football Union. Archived from the original on 8 November 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2006. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Powergen to end cup sponsorships". BBC Sport. 16 February 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2006. 
  6. ^ "Anglo-Welsh Cup gets new sponsor". BBC Sport. 1 August 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2006. 

External links[edit]