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Premiership Rugby Cup: Championship clubs' inclusion can 'bridge gap with top flight'

Premiership Rugby Cup - Leicester v Caldy

Venue: Welford Road, Leicester Date: Saturday, 9 September Kick-off: 15:00 BST Coverage: Updates on BBC local radio and live scores on the BBC Sport website

Adding Championship clubs to the Premiership Rugby Cup can bridge the gap between the top flight and second tier, Caldy boss Matt Cairns said.

Caldy take part in the competition for the first time having stayed up in the Championship last season.

They travel to Welford Road to take on Leicester on Saturday and also face Sale and Newcastle in their pool.

"It's great for rugby union that Championship teams will face Premiership clubs," Cairns said.

Speaking to BBC Radio Merseyside, he continued: "If this happens over a period of years, maybe the gap will close.

"The more money and more interest it can generate in the game, it can allow teams to grow the sport across a number of teams rather than just the top 10 clubs in the country."

While rugby union's World Cup gets under way this weekend, a revamped Premiership Rugby Cup also kicks off with Premiership sides taking on Championship sides for the first time for 18 years.

Cairns says his side are excited for the chance to prove themselves against some of the country's elite clubs as they prepare for a second season in the Championship.

"A trip to Welford Road in the first game of the season is pretty incredible given we were in National League Two North a few seasons ago," he said.

"[Then] we've got Sale at our place in a few weeks. It's beyond where the club could hope for only a few years ago but it's fantastic that we've got this coming our way.

"It's obviously going to be tough because they're full-time elite teams. Our lads train on a Tuesday and Thursday night and have to work around rugby, as do all the coaches and staff.

"It's going to be incredibly difficult from a results point of view but we've got to understand where we're at and we've got to enjoy the moment and the challenge and take out of it what we can."