Nov 02, 2016
The Anglo-Welsh Cup Is Back
After a season’s break the Anglo-Welsh Cup returns to stadiums across England and Wales this weekend for the first round of the competition.
The competition has been the making of the likes of Maro Itoje and Ben Spencer in previous years and is the perfect stage for the latest crop of new talent to break their way into mainstream consciousness.
Last Time Out
The 14/15 tournament saw Saracens crowned champions for the first time as they defeated Exeter in a close final at Franklin’s Gardens. With the sides tied a 20 points a piece, and the game looking like it was headed to extra time, Exeter gave away a last minute penalty which Ben Spencer coolly slotted between the posts for the win. In doing so Saracens became the ninth different side to win the competition since 2006, with previous winners including Wasps, Leicester, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Northampton, Gloucester, Harlequins and Exeter. Prior to that the competition has existed since the amateur era, being established in 1972.
Saracens have been drawn in Pool One for the 16/17 campaign alongside Dragons, Northampton and Bath. The structure of the Anglo-Welsh Cup means that teams in Pool One will face team from Pool Four in the early stages of the competition with Saracens taking on Gloucester (away), Newcastle Falcons (home), Leicester Tigers (home) and Scarlets (away). The final this year will be staged at The Stoop and will take place on Sunday 19th March.
Who To Watch
The Saracens Academy has produced a plethora of talent in recent years and the Anglo-Welsh Cup is the perfect place to see some of the latest products in action.
Tompkins made his Anglo-Welsh debut for Saracens way back in 2012 and has since broken his way into the senior squad, making his Aviva Premiership debut in 2014 before his Champions Cup debut this season. That particular debut caught the eye of many a spectator as the centre scored a stunning individual try and collected the man of the match award. Away from Saracens Tompkins was a member of the U20s side which won the 2014 Junior World Championship and toured with England Saxons last summer.
Son of New Zealand 1987 World Cup winner John Gallagher, fullback Matt made his Aviva Premiership debut this season after a number of successful years with the Storm and A-League squads. Gallagher was a member of the England U20s squad who were crowned 2016 World Champions, making his debut on the wing against Scotland.
Standing at a centimetre shy of 2 metres tall and weighing in at 111kg 18 year old Nick is a promising lock forward who joined up with the senior Saracens Academy this season. Last season Isiekwe shone for England U18s and has since been called up into the England U20s squad alongside Earl and Nay as well as other fellow Saracens Ralph Adams-Hale, Max Malins and Ali Crossdale.