Cross Keys face the daunting task of a trip to the North East to take on Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park on Saturday 13th October.
The Keys could not have been given a more difficult challenge to the one they will face on Saturday in their bid to go one better than last season, when they of course were beaten in the final by Munster A at Musgrave Park.
The Falcons are flying in the English Championship this year (pun not intended!) following their relegation from the Aviva Premiership at the end of last season. They have won 6 out of 6 of their league encounters, with an impressive total of 29 points from a possible 30. Dean Richards men are probably overwhelming favourites, not only for Saturday's encounter but also for the tournament outright.
The two sides have met on two occassions previously, in the European Shield (now The Amlin Challenge cup) back in the 2000/01 season, when Keys had a season in the old Welsh/Scottish League. Newcastle, coached then by Rob Andrew triumphed in both fixtures. At Kingston Park the home side emerged victorious by 99 points to 8. In the home fixture, played at Waunfawr Park due to Pandy Park waterlogged, a much closer game ended 25-11 to the visitors. Back then Newcastle could call on such players as Gary Armstrong, Vaiga Tuigamala, Dave Walder, Doddie Weir, Jamie Noon and a certain outside half by the name of Jonny Wilkinson.
So the toughest of starts for Keys to start their British & Irish cup campaign but Keys thrived on being firm underdogs in this tournament last season so maybe history can repeat itself this time around.
Team news will appear later.
Newcastle Falcons v Cross Keys British and Irish Cup
Venue: Kingston Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Date: 13th October 2012
Kick Off: 3.00pm