In less than two months time we head back across the Irish Sea for our third meeting of the season with Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup, with the biggest saved til last.
A semi-final place in Europe is up for grabs when the two sides meet at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday 29th March (k/o 7.45pm) and as always the Connacht faithful will be making the trip over to help us across the line.
Sale Sharks have sent us the below document with plenty of useful info for Connacht fans heading to the game. It includes info on local hotels, getting to/from the stadium, and food and drink in the area amongst others.

The EPCR have confirmed the date and kick-off time for the European Challenge Cup quarter-final between Sale Sharks and Conancht Rugby.
The game will take place at the AJ Bell Stadium in Sale on Friday March 29th with kick-off at 7.45pm, and there will be live TV coverage via the eir sport pack.
Sale will release details on how to purchase tickets for the game this coming Monday.

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Connacht lock Quinn Roux is set to captain Connacht for the first time ahead of Saturday’s final European Challenge Cup pool game away to Bordeaux-Begles (k/o 3pm Irish time). Roux has played 90 times for Connacht since making his debut in 2014 and signed a two-year extension to his contract earlier in the season.

Andy Friend’s team selection also includes a debut for Academy scrum-half Stephen Kerins. The 22 year old Sligo man forms a new-look half-back partnership with out-half David Horwitz. Caolin Blade and Jack Carty have been named among the replacements.

The midfield partnership is made up of Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell, both of whom were named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad this week. While in the back three Matt Healy and Darragh Leader will start on the wings and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.

In the pack there is a return to action for number 8 Eoin McKeon who starts his first game since suffering a shoulder injury against Glasgow on the opening day of the season. He forms joins a back row alongside flankers Paul Boyle and James Connolly. Up front props Pete McCabe and Finlay Bealham are joined by hooker Shane Delahunt. In the second row Gavin Thornbury will partner the captain Quinn Roux.

Among the replacements is hooker Jonny Murphy who is named in the Connacht matchday squad for the first time, while Eoin Griffin has returned from injury to take his place on the bench.

Connacht go into the game knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the quarter-finals, and Head Coach Andy Friend says his team must be completely focused on the task at hand.
“We know that a win of any description will secure a quarter final spot”, he said.

“Achieving any win away in France is difficult. French teams pride themselves on their home record and make it difficult for the opposition and we expect Bordeaux to be no different. Having said that we will be sticking to the approach that has served us well this season and we will be focusing on our own game.”

A win would mean a number of potential opponents in the last eight, but Friend has stresses that their focus remains solely on this weekend. “We haven’t really looked at all the different permutations, all we know is we need to get to Bordeaux and do a job. Ideally it would be a bonus-point win but a win is all we’re focusing on at the minute.”

#BORvCON  (Kick-off 3pm Irish time)

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, David Horwitz, Stephen Kerins. (1-8) Pete McCabe, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux (C), Paul Boyle, James Connolly, Eoin McKeon.

Replacements (16-23): Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Connon, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Eoin Griffin.

The EPCR have confirmed the time, date and location for Connacht’s final European Challenge Cup pool game against Bordeaux-Begles next month.
The game will be played on Saturday January 19th 2019 at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, with a kick-off time of 4pm local time (3pm Irish time).
Connacht have won 3 of their 4 pool games so far and are in the hunt for top spot in the pool.

Connacht return to action at The Sportsground for the first time in over a month this Saturday when Perpignan pay a visit for our third game in the European Challenge Cup.
Ahead of the tie Andy Friend spoke to the media at the pre-match press conference, discussing the challenge that lay ahead of what kind of team will take to the field.
You can watch his thoughts below:

Our next home tie comes on Saturday week when we host Perpignan for the first of back-to-back games against the French side in the European Challenge Cup. Here’s an update on what tickets are available:
As always the Clan Stand is sold out to Season Ticket holders, while the Grant Thornton Stand and Enclosure are also now sold out. There is *very limited availability* remaining in the Main Stand, but we expect the remaining tickets to be snapped up in the coming days.
There are still tickets available for the Bohermore Road and College Road Ends, but we’d encourage fans to purchase online in advance of the game where they’ll get the best prices compared to at the gate.
Kick off at The Sportsground on Saturday 8th December is at 3pm.

Christmas Time means Christmas Rugby, and this season is no different with a feast of action coming to The Sportsground over a two week period.

After we head to Leinster on the 22nd it’s full steam ahead for three huge home fixtures – two interprovincial derbies and a massive European Challenge Cup clash – so we’re offering you the perfect Christmas package to treat the special person in your life, or even yourself!

First up is the visit of Ulster on December 28th for our first Friday night fixture of the season. Our provincial neighbours will be gunning for revenge after our win in Belfast last October, so it’s sure to be another hotly contested clash. Don’t forget our last Sportsground meeting was a memorable 44-16 win last season, so fingers crossed for more of the same.

Then it’s our first clash of the season with Munster which historically is a fixture that needs no introduction. Like Ulster we also came out on top in our Galway meeting last season, overcoming a slow start for a 20-16 victory. The Reds are our conference rivals in the Guinness PRO14 so another win could go a huge way in our chase for Champions Cup rugby next season.

Finally it’s on to European Challenge Cup rugby as Sale Sharks pay a visit for a game which could have huge ramifications in our hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals. The English side got the better of us at the AJ Bell Stadium, so Andy Friend and his players will be going all out to make sure we return the favour.

You can purchase a Connacht Christmas Three pass for just €89, which gives you access to the Main Terrace ticket for all three games. That’s less than €30 each for three of our biggest games of the season.

Connacht Rugby have been drawn alongside Sale Sharks, Bordeaux-Begles and Perpignan in Pool 3 in the 2018/19 European Challenge Cup.

The draw was made earlier today in Lausanne, and is below in full.

The exact fixtures and kick-off times are TBD but will be played over the following weekends…

Round 1: 12th/13th/14th October
Round 2: 19th/20th/21st October
Round 3: 7th/8th/9th December
Round 4: 14th/15th/16th December
Round 5: 11th/12th/13th January 2019
Round 6: 18th/19th/20th January 2019
Quarter-finals: 29th/30th/31st March 2019
Semi-finals: 19th/20th/21st April 2019
Final: Friday 10 May, St James’ Park

It’s been confirmed that Connacht Rugby have been placed in Tier 2 for next week’s 2018/19 Challenge Cup pool draw in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The draw will be held at 2pm Irish time on Wednesday 20th June, when we will learn the identities of our three European opponents in the pool stages.

The tiers are determined based on the final standings in the Guinness PRO14, TOP 14, Gallagher Premiership, the PRO D2, the Greene King IPA Championship and the Continental Shield.

In Tier 1 will contain La Rochelle, Sale Sharks, Benetton Rugby and two of Pau, Northampton Saints and Ospreys, with a draw determining who will get the final two spots.

The third team will join us in Tier 2 alongside Clermont Auvergne, Harlequins, and a team from the same league as the club which was not drawn into Tier 1.

So far the confirmed Tier 3 teams are Agen, Bristol Bears and Dragons with two more to be decided, while Tier 4 will contain Stade Francais, Perpignan, Grenoble, Enisei-STM and Timisoara Saracens.

For a full detailed explanation of the Challenge Cup pool draw click HERE.


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