Cardiff Blues will find out our 2018/19 Champions Cup pool stage opponents when the draw is made on Wednesday 20th June in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It is the first time we have been back in the flagship European competition since the 2013/14 season when we departed at the pool stage courtesy of two losses to Exeter Chiefs and an away defeat at the hands of Toulon.
Qualification came after finishing fourth in the Guinness Pro14’s Conference A, but with Cheetahs not involved in European competition, we automatically entered the competition.
As it happened, we also would have qualified as Challenge Cup winners, after the 31-30 victory over Gloucester in Bilbao that capped off a fine season.
With the play-off stages of the three top European domestic leagues now almost completed, the full seeding for the draw is close enough to being confirmed for us to know who the potential opponents for John Mulvihill’s side will be.
We do know that Cardiff Blues, runners up in the first ever Heineken Cup back in 1995/96, will be in amongst the fourth tier teams though, as the second lowest ranked Pro14 side to qualify.
Each pool will have one team from each league until the fourth tier clubs are drawn, but Pro14 teams cannot be in the same pool as another team from the same country. This means we will face an English side, a French side, and then either an Irish or a Scottish side.
Gloucester, Ulster, Toulon and Bath are already confirmed alongside us as fourth tier seeds, therefore potential opponents are as follows;
England – Exeter, Saracens, Newcastle, Wasps, Leicester
France – Montpellier, Racing, Toulouse, Lyon, Castres
Ireland – Leinster, Munster
Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh
A draw will take place before the actual pool draw to complete the the first, second and third tiers, but I will fully explain how the draw works closer to the time.
Round dates for next season’s Champions Cup have been confirmed;
Round one: 12/13/14 October
Round two: 19/20/21 October
Round three: 7/8/9 December
Round four: 14/15/16 December
Round five: 11/12/13 January
Round six: 18/19/20 January
Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March
Semi-finals: 19/20/21 April
Tickets for the Champions Cup Final, which could well be called the Heineken Cup once again by the time next season comes around, have gone on sale. It will take place in Newcastle on Saturday 11th May 2019.