Stage set for Challenge Cup draw
June 13, 2011
Harlequins celebrate their dramatic victory over Stade Francais in the final of this season's competition © Getty Images
European Rugby Cup officials have confirmed the seeding for next season's Amlin Challenge Cup ahead of the Wednesday's pool draw.
Last season's defeated finalists Stade Francais head the top seeds alongside fellow European giants Perpignan, Wasps and Toulon with two-time winners Sale also named in Tier 1.
There are 20 participating clubs from six countries - England, France, Italy, Romania, Spain and Wales - who will be drawn into five pools of four teams each. The four tiers are based on the ERC European Rankings system over the past four seasons in the Heineken Cup and the knock-out stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup and also on participation in the pool stages of the latter over the same four season period.
Fresh from their return to the Premiership, Worcester Warriors are included in Tier 2 where they are joined by the Dragons, Brive, Newcastle and Bayonne. Exeter Chiefs line up in Tier 3 with Petraca Padova, Crociati Parma, Rovigo and Agen with Tier 4 featuring Cavalieri Prato, Lyon, Bordeaux-Bègles, Bucharest Wolves and Club Rugby La Vila.
Each pool will have one club from each of the four tiers and no two clubs from the same country will be drawn in the same pool, except for the sixth, seventh and eighth clubs from France who will be drawn into pools with another French club.
The clubs and tiers for the 2011 / 2012 Amlin Challenge Cup are:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament