The draw for the 2011/12 Amiln Challenge Cup was made earlier today and it will see England fly half Johnny Wilkinson making a return to his former club Newcastle Falcons as his Toulon side have been pair with the English club in the group stages of the competition
Wilkinson, who scored 2,005 points in 180 appearances for the Falcons in a 12-year stint in the north-east of England, helped Toulon reach the quarter-finals in their first foray into the Heineken Cup last season having steered them into the Amlin Challenge Cup final in 2010.
Toulon have also been paired with Italian side Petrarca Padova, and French Top 14 and tournament newcomers, Lyon Rugby, who make up the rest of Pool 2.
The draw, which was made in Dublin, will also see 2011 finalists been paired with English Championship winners Worcester Warriors, Crociati Parma and Bucharest Wolves of Romania in Pool 1.
Spain’s first representive in the competition Club de Rugby La Vila, who will join Lyon in making their debut in the competition, find themselves in Pool 5 along with two times Amlin Challenge Cup winners Sale Sharks, 1997 Heineken Cup winners Brive and Agen.
The five Pool winners will progress into the quarter-finals where they will be joined by three Pool runners-up from the Heineken Cup. Harlequins, who won the Amlin Challenge Cup for a record third time last season, gained promotion into the Heineken Cup as a result of their victory.
Amlin Challenge Cup 2011 / 2012 Pools
Pool 1: Stade Francais Paris, Worcester Warriors, Crociati Parma, Bucharest Wolves
Pool 2: Toulon, Newcastle Falcons, Petrarca Padova, Lyon Rugby
Pool 3: London Wasps, Bayonne, Femi-CZ Rovigo, Bordeaux-Begles
Pool 4: Perpignan, Newport Gwent Dragons, Exeter Chiefs, Cavalieri Prato
Pool 5: Sale Sharks, Brive, Agen, Club de Rugby La Vila
Amlin Challenge Cup 2011/12 Dates
ROUND 1 – 10/11/12/13 November 2011
ROUND 2 – 17/18/19/20 November 2011
ROUND 3 – 8/9/10/11 December 2011
ROUND 4 – 15/16/17/18 December 2011
ROUND 5 – 12/13/14/15 January 2012
ROUND 6 – 19/20/21/22 January 2012
QUARTER-FINALS – 6/7/8 April 2012
SEMI-FINALS – 27/28/29 April 2012
The 16th Amlin Challenge Cup Final – 18/19/20 May 2012