Jonny Wilkinson set for Newcastle Challenge Cup return

Jonny Wilkinson
Wilkinson scored 2,005 points in 180 appearances in 12 years at Newcastle

England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson will face former club Newcastle in the Amlin Challenge Cup after his Toulon side were drawn in the same pool.

Newport Gwent Dragons face a tough group as the Welsh region share Pool Four with French giants Perpignan and strong English side Exeter Chiefs.

English Premiership new boys Worcester Warriors have been drawn with two-time Heineken Cup finalists Stade Francais.

Sale and Wasps have French tests, facing Brive and Bayonne respectively.

But Wilkinson's return to Newcastle is the biggest sub-plot to the 2011/12 Challenge Cup draw, as the English World Cup winner is heading back to Kingston Park two years after leaving the Falcons.

The 32-year-old fly-half scored 2,005 points in his 12-year, 180-appearance career at Newcastle.

And since joining Toulon, Wilkinson inspired the rejuvenated French side into the 2010 Amlin Challenge Cup final before helping Toulon reach the quarter-finals in their first Heineken Cup appearance last season.

Italian champions Petrarca Padova and French Top 14 and Challenge Cup newcomers Lyon Rugby join Newcastle and Toulon in Pool Two after the European draw in Dublin on Wednesday.

Wales star James Hook will enjoy an immediate return to Wales as his new Perpignan side have been drawn alongside the Dragons in Pool Four, while Exeter - who have former Dragons Phil Dollman and Matt Jess in their squad - plus Italian minnows Cavalieri Prato make up the group.

London Wasps, the 2003 Amlin Challenge Cup champions, will face the challenge of two French clubs as Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips' new side Bayonne and Bordeaux-Begles are also in Pool Three alongside Italian side Femi-CZ Rovigo.

Stade Francais Paris, the 2011 finalists, are paired with English Championship winners Worcester, Italian side Crociati Parma and Bucharest Wolves of Romania in Pool One.

Spain's representative Club de Rugby La Vila and Lyon are to make their Challenge Cup debut from Pool Five alongside two-time Amlin winners Sale Sharks, 1997 Heineken Cup winners Brive and French side Agen.

The five pool winners will progress into the quarter-finals to be joined by three group runners-up from the Heineken Cup.

Amlin Challenge Cup Pools:

Pool One: Stade Francais Paris, Worcester Warriors, Crociati Parma, Bucharest Wolves

Pool Two: Toulon, Newcastle Falcons, Petrarca Padova, Lyon Rugby

Pool Three: London Wasps, Bayonne, Femi-CZ Rovigo, Bordeaux-Begles

Pool Four: Perpignan, Newport Gwent Dragons, Exeter Chiefs, Cavalieri Prato

Pool Five: Sale Sharks, Brive, Agen, Club de Rugby La Vila

Amlin Challenge Cup dates:

Round One: 10, 11, 12, 13 November 2011

Round Two: 17, 18, 19, 20 November 2011

Round Three: 8, 9, 10, 11 December 2011

Round Four: 15, 16, 17, 18 December 2011

Round Five: 12, 13, 14, 15 January 2012

Round Six: 19, 20, 21, 22 January 2012

Quarter-finals: 6, 7, 8 April 2012

Semi-finals: 27, 28, 29 April 2012

Final: 18, 19, 20 May 2012

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