Fixtures released as Anglo-Welsh Cup returns after World Cup break

Saracens celebrate their 2015 Anglo-Welsh Cup final win over Exeter
England lock Maro Itoje (holding the trophy) captained Saracens to Anglo-Welsh Cup glory in 2015

The fixtures for this season's Anglo-Welsh Cup have been released as the competition returns after a season's absence.

Concerns over a busy schedule because of last year's World Cup meant the tournament was put on hold.

Group games will be played during international periods in November and during the Six Nations tournament.

The four group winners will contest the semi-finals on 11 March and the final will take place on 18 March.

In the opening round of fixtures, holders Saracens visit Gloucester on Saturday 5 November.

The last Welsh team to win the competition, 2009 champions Cardiff Blues, start with a trip to Exeter on Sunday 13 November.

The Dragons kick-off with a trip to Leicester on Saturday 12 November and Scarlets host Bath in their first match.

The Anglo-Welsh Cup has largely been used for the development of younger players in recent years.

Pool One: Dragons, Saracens, Northampton, Bath

Pool Two: Ospreys, Exeter, Sale, Worcester

Pool Three: Blues, Bristol, Harlequins, Wasps

Pool Four: Scarlets, Leicester, Newcastle, Gloucester