Rugby Union: Grasshoppers and Stoke risk old wounds in first round: Expanded form of Pilkington Cup

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The Independent Online
STOKE and Preston Grasshoppers, who were involved in accusations and counter-accusations of violence last season, will meet in the first round of the Pilkington Cup on 11 September.

Relations between the clubs last October were acrimonious after Stoke accused the Lions and England lock, Wade Dooley, of being responsible for an incident which left their No 8 Steve Maskrey, a fellow policeman, concussed during a Fourth Division match in the league.

Preston reacted to Stoke's criticisms by accusing one of their officials of an attempted assualt on Dooley after the game. Dooley was cleared of allegations of violent play, but Stoke officials were later reprimanded by the Rugby Union after a full investigation.

This season the Pilkington Cup is expanded from 76 to 96 clubs, with the initial round including clubs from the new League Five North and League Five South. In the second round Leagues Three and Four enter, but the top two divisions do not come in until the fourth round.

Paul Grayson the Waterloo stand- off and the Tynedale centre John Fletcher, who both went on England's tour of Canada, yesterday joined First Division Northampton. Grayson will form potentially one of the most exciting half-back partnerships in the country with another England tourist, the highly rated Matt Dawson.

The Saints former England B lock- forward John Etheridge, who was in the Irish squad last season, has joined Blackrock College, while the long- serving scrum-half David Elkington has returned to Bedford where he was capped as an England Colt.

PILKINGTON CUP First-round draw: London and Southwest: Ruislip v Tabard; Old Midwhitgiftians v Bridgwater and Albion; Berry Hill v Henley; Westombe Park v Ealing; Lydney v Maidstone; Weston- super-Mare v Barking; Brixham v Reading; Stroud v Basingstoke; Camborne v Wimborne; London Welsh v Windsor; Alton v St Ives; Cheshunt v High Wycombe; Southend v Cambridge; North Walsham v Met Police; Chiltern v Worthing. North and Midlands: Kettering v Widnes; New Brighton v Wigton; Lichfield v Walsall; Stourbridge v Camp Hill; Winnington Park v Rotherham; Stockton v Syston; Durham City v Wolverhampton; Nuneaton v Hereford; Preston Grasshoppers v Stoke; Scunthorpe v Wharfdale; Broadstreet v Birmingham and Sollihull; York v Kendal; Bradford and Bingley v Tynedale.

Ties to be played 11 September.