The pool draws for the 2017/18 European rugby season will take place on Thursday in Neuchatel, Switzerland and Cardiff Blues have been seeded in tier one for the Challenge Cup draw.
A seventh place finish in last season’s Guinness Pro12 sees Danny Wilson’s men the highest ranking side from the league qualify for the second tier European competition, joining their English and French counterparts, Stade Francais and Newcastle Falcons, as the top seeded sides.
With five sides needed per tier there will a preliminary draw to complete the ranking system that will see the second highest ranking sides from each league be drawn into either the top or second tier, while the fourth highest ranked sides from each league will be drawn into either the second or third tier.
|Tier 1||Newcastle Falcons (1 AP)||Cardiff Blues (1 Pro12)||Stade Français (1 Top 14)||(2 TBC)||(2 TBC)|
|Tier 2||(2 TBC)||Sale Sharks (3 AP)||Edinburgh (3 Pro12)||Pau (3 Top 14)||(4 TBC)|
|Tier 3||(4 TBC)||(4 TBC)||London Irish (5 AP)||Bordeaux (5 Top 14)||Zebre (5 Pro 12)|
|Tier 4||Toulouse (6 Top 14)||Oyonnax (7 Top 14)||Agen (8 Top 14)||Enisey-STM (CS 1)||Krasny Yar (CS 2)|
Second ranking teams; Brive, Gloucester and Connacht
Fourth ranking teams; Lyon, Worcester and Newport Gwent Dragons
There will be five pools of four teams, with each pool having one team from each league, although some pools will have more than one French team.
This means that Cardiff Blues’ potential opponents list looks something like this;
- Cardiff Blues
- London Irish/Bordeaux/Lyon/Worcester
- Toulouse/Oyonnax/Agen/Enisey-STM/Krasny Yar
With the one team per league ruling for tiers one through three, if Cardiff draw a French team from tier two then we can only draw an English team from tier three, and vice versa.
Also, after the preliminary draw takes place it will be a lot clearer who our opponents may be as potentially both Brive and Gloucester could be in the same tier as us, while Lyon and Worcester will be in just one of tier two and three.
The 2017/18 European rugby pool draws will be broadcast live on the EPCR website from 13:00 on Thursday, with the Challenge Cup likely to follow the Champions Cup. If you are not in a position to watch on the website, I will live tweet the draw and potential outcomes as they unfold, follow me @CardiffRugbyWeb
Check back here on Thursday evening for a full rundown of Cardiff Blues’ opponents as the new season edges slightly closer, and let me know in the comments or Twitter which trips you fancy.