TOP BAR - Fixtures

Pool Draws for 2016/17 Challenge Cup and Champions Cup

Saracens, Connacht Rugby and the winners of tomorrow’s TOP 14 final between Racing 92 and RC Toulon in Barcelona will be guaranteed top seedings when the pool draw for the European Rugby Champions Cup takes place in Neuchâtel, Switzerland next Wednesday (29 June).

This key event will get underway with the pool draw for the 2016/17 Challenge Cup at 13.00 (UK and Irish time) and the draw for the Champions Cup pools will follow immediately.

See attached for pool draws key principles and club rankings

Both draws will be broadcast on Sky Sports News, beIN Sports and Infosport+ and streamed live on www.epcrugby.com

The event comperes in Neuchâtel will be Alex Payne (Sky Sports) and Matthieu Lartot (France Télévisions) with Dimitri Yachvili (beIN Sports) and Ieuan Evans (Sky Sports) conducting the draws.

Twenty clubs from the Aviva Premiership, the PRO12 and the TOP 14 have qualified on merit for the Champions Cup. The clubs will be divided into four tiers of five and a preliminary draw will be conducted to establish Tier 1 with two of the three second-ranked clubs – Exeter Chiefs, Leinster Rugby and the TOP 14 losing finalists – joining Saracens, Connacht and the French champions in the top tier.

Once Tier 1 has been established, the remaining three tiers will fall into place. Tier 2 will include the three third-ranked clubs from the leagues – Wasps, Glasgow Warriors and ASM Clermont Auvergne – as well as the second-ranked club which was not drawn into Tier 1 and the fourth-ranked club from the same league as the club which was not drawn into Tier 1.

Tier 3 will include the two clubs ranked fourth which are not in Tier 2 as well as the three fifth-ranked clubs from each league – Northampton Saints, Scarlets and Toulouse.

Tier 4 is complete and contains the sixth-ranked clubs from each league – Sale Sharks, Munster Rugby and Castres Olympique – as well as Zebre Rugby and the seventh-ranked club from the TOP 14, Bordeaux-Bègles.

When all the tiers are completed, the main draw for the five pools will be made, and during the draw, some clubs may have to be placed directly into a pool in order to ensure that the key principles apply (see attached).

In Tier 4, Sale Sharks will be drawn into a pool which contains one other Premiership club, and Castres Olympique and Bordeaux-Bègles will be drawn into pools which contain one other TOP 14 club. Munster cannot be drawn into a pool which contains another Irish province.

Harlequins, Cardiff Blues and Brive are confirmed among the Tier 1 clubs for the Challenge Cup draw which will be conducted on similar lines with four tiers and five pools.

In Tier 4, Bristol Rugby will be drawn into a pool which contains one other Premiership club, and Lyon and Bayonne will be drawn into pools with one other TOP 14 club.

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