BT Sport has secured the rights to screen the European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup in Ireland for the four-year cycle until summer 2022 as the competitions  move to one pay-TV broadcaster from the 2018/19 season.

EPCR has also reserved the rights for free-to-air coverage in Ireland, allowing EPCR to meet its key objective of taking its matches to a larger audience and will take those rights to market at a later date. It comes after a boost in revenue was announced in France for the same period, with an option for increased free-to-air coverage.

EPCR CEO Vincent Gaillard said: “The interest that we have seen through the tender process shows how the tournaments continue  to go from strength-to-strength. Having one premium pay-television broadcaster in BT Sport will simplify the viewing experience for those fans and coverage on free-to-air television will give greater exposure to our outstanding rugby experiences.”

Andy Haworth, BT’s managing director of content and strategy, said: “BT Sport is now the home of elite European rugby, as well as the home of Premiership Rugby. We’re proud to have won the live rights for these fantastic competitions. We’re extremely passionate about our rugby coverage and will continue to work hard to grow the profile of the sport.”

One season remains on the existing deal with both BT Sport and Sky Sports sharing the rights to broadcast the competitions. EPCR would like to thank its broadcast partners for both their support and the quality of their coverage and look forward to another exciting season of European professional club rugby.

Connacht will compete in pool 5 of next season’s European Challenge Cup alongside Brive, Worcester Warriors and Oyonnax.

Six tough encounters await Connacht as they renew acquaintances with Brive and Worcester while facing Oyonnax for the first time.

The four previous meetings with Brive saw Connacht pick up one win while they have beaten Worcester Warriors twice at the Sportsground and lost on both visits to Sixways.

Brive finished eighth in the Top14 last season and were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the Challenge Cup while Oyonnax captured the Pro D2 title.

Worcester battled their way to an 11th place finish in the Premiership and were beaten twice by Brive in the pool stages of last year’s competition.

The five pool winners and three best-placed runners-up qualify for the quarter-finals.

Guarantee your entry to all home pool games by signing up for a 2017/18 Season Ticket here.

2017/18 Challenge Cup pools

Pool 1: Newcastle Falcons, Newport Gwent Dragons, Bordeaux-Bègles, Enisei-STM

Pool 2: Cardiff Blues, Sale Sharks, Lyon, Toulouse

Pool 3: Gloucester Rugby, Pau, Zebre Rugby, Agen

Pool 4: Stade Français Paris, Edinburgh Rugby, London Irish, Krasny Yar

Pool 5: Brive, Connacht Rugby, Worcester Warriors, Oyonnax

 

Fixture dates (full details to be confirmed at a later date)

Round 1: 12/13/14/15 October 2017

Round 2: 19/20/21/22 October 2017

Round 3: 7/8/9/10 December 2017

Round 4: 14/15/16/17 December 2017

Round 5: 11/12/13/14 January 2018

Round 6: 18/19/20/21 January 2018

Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March / 1 April 2018

Semi-finals: 20/21/22 April 2018

Challenge Cup final: Friday 11 May 2018 (San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao)

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