Two more Welsh rugby clubs will get the chance to play at Principality Stadium on National Finals Day in April, 2020, following an expansion to the Specsavers sponsored cup competitions.
The original WRU Challenge Cup was split into three in 2007 when the WRU created the WRU National Plate and National Bowl competitions. Now there will be an extra tier with the creation of the Specsavers Shield. The Specsavers Shield has been created for clubs competing in Specsavers Divisions 3 East C, 3 East Central C, 3 West Central C and 3 North. It will also include five 2nd XVs.
There will be 46 teams entering the first round of the new tournament on 12 October, with a further two clubs receiving byes. There are 108 teams in the Bowl and the same number in the Plate.
While a new champion will be crowned in the Shield, reigning Plate champions Brecon will get their chance to defend their titles when the new season gets underway. They won the crown for the first time last season with a 23-21 win over Bonymaen before making it a league and cup double by taking the Division 1 East championship.
Andy Powell’s Brecon will at least have home advantage on Saturday, 21 September, in Round 1, but they couldn’t have been handed a tougher draw than hosting the 2014 runners-up Rhiwbina of Division 1 East Central. Bonymaen, meanwhile, launch their campaign at Gilfach Goch.
The two finalists from the Bowl, champions Abergavenny and runners-up Oakdale, will both be playing at a higher level this season after gaining promotion from Division 3 East A. League winners Oakdale head 10 miles up the Gwent Valleys to face the 2018 champions, Brynmawr, while Abergavenny will also be on the road, visiting Dowlais, who are another Division 1 East outfit.
The 2016 Plate winners, Bedlinog, return to the tournament after three seasons in the WRU National Championship, and they will kick-off at home against newly promoted Barry. Newbridge, who were also relegated from the Championship, will host Blaenavon, while Rhydyfelin, the 2013 runners-up, head to Llantrisant following their relegation from the Championship.
Newcastle Emlyn, the 2015 runners-up, are back in Division 1 West this season after dropping down from the Championship. They will host Hendy.
Plate Draw <double click to download>
2019: Brecon; 2018: Brynmawr; 2017: Penallta; 2016: Bedlinog; 2015: Ystrad Rhondda; 2014: Merthyr; 2013: Heol y Cyw; 2012: Penallta; 2011: Ammanford; 2010: Maesteg; 2009: Ammanford
Bowl Draw <double click to download>
2019: Abergavenny; 2018: Porthcawl; 2017: Amman United; 2016: Burry Port; 2015: Ystradgynlais; 2014: Clwb Rugbi; 2013: Wattstown; 2012: Glyncoch; 2011: Senghenydd; 2010: Abercarn; 2009: Morriston
Shield Draw <double click to download>