Cardiff Blues are set to be top seeds in the pool stage draw for the 2019/20 European Challenge Cup, despite finishing lower in the Guinness Pro14’s Conference A than Scarlets did in Conference B.
It would follow a precedent set in last season’s second tier European competition that saw Zebre ranked higher than Dragons despite finishing last in Conference A, with the Welsh side sixth in Conference B, courtesy of the Italians having more league points to their name.
In this season’s Pro14 Cardiff Blues finished fifth in Conference A on 54 points, while Scarlets finished fourth in Conference B on 52 points, going on to lose to the Ospreys in the Heineken Champions Cup play-off.
With the regular Top14 season now over, the rest of the seedings are complete, with Brive and Bayonne promoted from ProD2 to take the last two spots in the competition.
It means the seedings currently look like this;
1st seeds: Castres, Wasps, Cardiff Blues
2nd seeds: Stade Francais, Bristol, Scarlets
3rd seeds: Toulon, Worcester, Edinburgh
4th seeds: Bordeaux, Leicester, Dragons
5th seeds: Pau, London Irish, Zebre
6/7/8 seeds: Agen, Bayonne, Brive
Continental Shield: Enisey-STM, Calvisano
The draw for the pool stages of the European Challenge Cup will take place on Wednesday 19th June at 1pm UK time, with the teams being sorted into tiers prior to the draw taking place.
All top seeds will go into tier one, where they will be joined by two second seed sides determined by a pre-draw. The other second seed will join the third seeds in tier two, as well as one of the fourth seeds, again determined by a pre-draw.
The other fourth seeds will be in tier three along with the fifth seeds, while the 6/7/8th seed French sides and the two teams qualified for the tournaments through the Continental Shield will make up tier four.
This means that Cardiff Blues will be in a pool with a French side, an English side and then either a second French side or one of the Continental Shield qualifiers. We cannot draw any other Pro14 sides in the pool stage.
EPCR weekends – 2019/20 season
Round 1: 15/16/17 November 2019
Round 2: 22/23/24 November 2019
Round 3: 6/7/8 December 2019
Round 4: 13/14/15 December 2019
Round 5: 10/11/12 January 2020
Round 6: 17/18/19 January 2020
Quarter-finals: 3/4/5 April 2020
Semi-finals: 1/2/3 May 2020
Challenge Cup final – Friday 22 May – Marseille