MARCH 13, 2011 and we are away to Gloucester in the semi-final of what was then called the LV= Cup after topping a pool that included Saracens, London Irish and Leeds Carnegie.

As this competition works differently to the usual blueprint we are used to, it meant we played Gloucester, Northampton, Scarlets and Sale Sharks.

That game away at Sale sticks in my mind, as it was the day we found out that Paul Turner had left the organisation and that Darren Edwards was to replace him as head coach. Putting all that behind us, we went up to Stockport on a freezing cold night when the pitch resembled a concrete playground and won 28-20.

The semi-final against Gloucester didn’t go to plan and we lost 45-17, but it was an exciting week building up to the game with Sky Sports among other media outlets visiting training, and it being the first knock out competition rugby we had played for a few seasons.

It was also backed very well by our supporters, who I remember filling ‘The Shed’ and out singing the Gloucester fans as they always enjoy doing.

I enjoyed some good experiences of the LV Cup when I was with the Exeter Chiefs as well. Beating Leicester Tigers at Welford Road in the last four and unfortunately losing narrowly to Saracens in the final, again with big away followings and an air of excitement during the competition.

The point am I trying to make is that the Anglo-Welsh Cup seems to have lost its way, especially when you look at the combined English clubs versus Welsh regions score last weekend of 174-19.

Yes, it’s clear that the English squads’ increasing amount of funds leads to more depth and better quality in their ‘second teams’ but it’s nowhere near what the scores from the weekend and previous rounds show.

Its obvious something is not working or that one country didn’t receive the memo, but neither side of a hammering is going to gain much, let alone the crowd that turns up to watch.

It doesn’t help that the rounds aren’t synced either, so Welsh and English clubs seem to have different priorities when playing each other.

Last weekend, for example, for the Welsh regions it was the perfect opportunity to rest players who have had numerous weeks of games under their belts and for the English clubs it’s seen as a warm up for the team that’s likely to play in this week’s Aviva Premiership fixtures.

In my view both countries need to get around the table and decide for sure what the Anglo-Welsh Cup is to be, either a development tournament or sought-after cup.

Neither option is better than the other, but they don’t coincide very well for both fans and players.

Anyway, it’s incredible to think that tomorrow’s match against the Scarlets is our first at Rodney Parade since September 30. Since then we have had six away games and travelled over 5,000 miles!

Unfortunately we haven’t been able to end our away day hoodoo in the Guinness PRO14 but we had success against Enisei-STM out in Moscow that sets us up nicely for the next few rounds in Europe.

I’m sure there are a lot of you itching to get back over and watch some rugby, as much as the boys are looking forward to getting back onto our own patch.

The good news is that the next six out of seven games are at home… not such good news for the groundsmen though.

The word on the street is that the new pitch is holding up very well so far this season. It was around this time last year that our old surface started to really struggle, so it will be great to be able to play some decent rugby on the new hybrid turn over this Christmas period.

The physio room is still showing some impressive numbers, as it seems those who are returning to fitness are swapping places with those picking up new injuries pretty quickly. Everyone seems to be progressing well and a few are due back over the next few weeks to help bolster the squad going into this busy period.

Also I’d like to add congratulations to my fellow film critic Leon Brown on his first Welsh cap. He was obviously nervous leading up to the game as he stayed away from the pic ‘n’ mix on our visit to the cinema last week!