The first round draws for this year’s SWALEC Cup, Bowl and Plate have been made with all three competitions promising a collection of extremely exciting opening fixtures.
In the SWALEC Cup, last year’s beaten finalists Pontypridd face a difficult trip to Llanelli in a match that will see one of Welsh rugby’s cup giants exit the competition at the first hurdle. Ponty fell to a surprise defeat against Cross Keys in last season’s final at the Millennium Stadium and will have to overcome the ultimate cup kings, 14 times winners Llanelli on their own patch in order to progress to round two.
Elsewhere, rivals Bridgend and Bridgend Athletic clash at Brewery Field with local bragging rights at stake. The Ravens started their Premiership campaign with a win over Llanelli last weekend but the local derby will surely bring out the best in both teams.
In another derby, Cardiff welcome Cardiff Met, formerly UWIC to the Arms Park while Whitland take on Aberavon, Ebbw Vale host fellow Gwent side Newbridge and Llandovery travel to Bedwas in the other all Premiership tie.
North Wales side RGC 1404 will be hoping to win their first ever SWALEC Cup game but they face a difficult tie away to Swansea, while the remaining round one fixtures see Llanharan take on Beddau, Bonymaen visit Newport, Narberth clash with Premiership side Carmarthen and Blackwood host Pontypool.
Defending champions Cross Keys as well as Bargoed, Glamorgan Wanderers, Neath and Tata Steel all have byes in the first round.
The sides involved will have to wait for their cup run to start though with the round one fixtures taking place the weekend of January 26 2013.
Elsewhere, the SWALEC Plate kicks off on the weekend of October 27 with last year’s champions Penallta taking on Ynysybwl in what is just one of 41 fixtures taking place on the opening weekend which also sees a host of mouth-watering local derbies including Crymych v Cardigan, Llanelli Wanderers v Felinfoel, Brynamman v Cwmllynfell, Penclawdd v Waunarlwydd and Gorseinon v Loughor.
Last year’s beaten finalists Nant Conwy will hope to go one better this season and start what they will hope to be another long cup run at home to fellow north Wales side Bethesda while Aberavon Green Stars, Gilfach Goch and Seven Sisters are among the clubs given byes into round two.
The SWALEC Bowl kicks-off at the end of this month (weekend of September 29) with 96 teams competing to take home the trophy.
Last year’s champions Glyncoch are just one of a number of teams to receive a bye to round two after Shaun Baggs masterminded a comeback over New Tredegar in last season’s final.
Glyncoch trailed 14-0 at one stage but fullback Baggs kicked three penalties and converted a Mike Webb try as his side came back to take home the trophy.
Who will take home the trophy this year though is anyone’s guess and there are again a number of choice local derbies in Round One including Benllech v Shotton Steel, Bangor v Abergele and Bangor University v Flint in north Wales alone, with mid Wales clubs Newtown and Machynlleth clashing at Newtown’s Recreation Ground.
Llandaff North take on Abercwmboi, Clwb Rygbi welcome St Josephs while Usk face fellow Monmouthshire side Chepstow in three of the other first round fixtures.
For a fully list of the fixtures visit these links:
Swalec Cup link
Swalec Plate link