Connacht are one of 20 clubs that will enter the draw for next season’s Challenge Cup in Neuchatel tomorrow (five pools of four teams).
The clubs will be divided into four tiers based on the qualification positions from their respective leagues and the Continental Shield. A draw will be carried out in advance of tomorrow’s pool draw proper to complete the tiers.
For the purposes of creating the tiers, the clubs are ranked based on their finishing positions in their respective leagues and the Continental Shield.
Each of the five pools will include one club from each of the four tiers.
Tier 1: Newcastle Falcons, Stade Français, Cardiff Blues, (Two of Connacht/Brive/Gloucester*).
Tier 2: Sale Sharks, Pau, Edinburgh Rugby, (one of Connacht/Brive/Gloucester*), (one of Lyon/Worcester Warriors/Newport Gwent Dragons*).
Tier 3: London Irish, Bordeaux-Bègles, Zebre Rugby, (two of Lyon/Worcester Warriors/Newport Gwent Dragons*).
Tier 4: Toulouse, Oyonnax, Agen, Enisei-STM, Krasny Yar.
*To be decided by draw prior to pool draw proper
• Each of the five pools will include one club from each of the four tiers.
• Each pool will have at least one club from the Premiership, the Guinness PRO12 and the TOP14.
• There will be no more than two clubs from the same league in a pool.
• No pool will contain two Guinness PRO12 clubs from the same country.
• Clubs from the same league will be kept apart until the Tier 4 allocation.
• A club from the Continental Shield cannot be drawn into a pool which contains two TOP 14 clubs or two Premiership clubs.
• The five pool winners and three best-placed runners-up qualify for the quarter-finals.