The Cornish Pirates will face some unfamiliar names in the Pool Stages of this season's British & Irish Cup after being drawn against Welsh Premiership sides Swansea and Carmarthen Quins, along with Dundee HSFP from Scotland`s Premiership One.
In a revised qualifying format to the tournament which sees the competition expanded to 32 teams, clubs will revert to playing those drawn in the same group after last season's experiment of qualifying along the lines of the LV= Cup. Each team will also play their opponents on a home and away basis with the top eight sides moving on to the quarter-finals in the new year.
The Pirates, who won the competition in 2010 and reached the semi-final last season, begin at home to Carmarthen Quins on the weekend of October 13th. They then face a 1,250 mile round trip as they travel to Dundee on October 20th before back to back home and away fixtures against Swansea in mid-December.
Dundee visit the Mennaye Field in early January with the final pool game at Carmarthen on January 19th.
The quarter-finals are scheduled for April 6th with the semis played three weeks later. This season`s final is to be played on Friday April 17th at a venue yet to be decided.
Munster, the current holders of the trophy, have been drawn against Aberavon, Plymouth Albion and Rotherham Titans. Last season`s runner-up Cross Keys, who beat the Pirates to get to the final, have a tough draw against Newport, Newcastle Falcons and Irish side Connacht.
Pool 1: Cardiff, Bridgend, Bristol, Ulster
Pool 2: Bedford, Bedwas, Stirling County, Neath
Pool 3: Carmarthen Quins, Dundee HSFP, Cornish Pirates, Swansea
Pool 4: Connacht, Cross Keys, Newport, Newcastle
Pool 5: Jersey, Pontypridd, Leinster, Leeds
Pool 6: Gala, Llanelli, London Scottish, Moseley
Pool 7: Aberavon, Munster, Plymouth, Rotherham
Pool 8: Doncaster, Llandovery, Melrose, Nottingham