Perpignan and Connacht clinch Heineken Cup places
May 19, 2013
The cast list for next season's Heineken Cup has been confirmed following the culmination of this season's competition © Getty Images
The line-up for next season's Heineken Cup has been confirmed following Toulon's amazing victory over Clermont Auvergne in the finale to the latest competition.
Once both Clermont Auvergne and Toulon qualified for the Dublin showpiece, France were guaranteed an extra place in next season's competition in addition to the six highest finishers in the Top 14. That extra place would have gone to Stade Francais had they managed to beat Leinster in the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup final on Friday night but the Irish side's victory ensures Perpignan will enter the Heineken Cup mix next term.
Leinster's victory, that set the seal on a fourth European title in five seasons and a first Challenge Cup triumph, was also good news for their Irish rivals Connacht who are also now guaranteed a Heineken Cup spot for a third year in-a-row.
Since the 2009-10 season, both the Heineken Cup and Challenge Cup winners qualify automatically for the following season's Heineken Cup and each winner earns an extra place for their countries over and above the guaranteed allocations of six clubs for France and England, three for Ireland and Wales, and two for Scotland and Italy.
France are represented by the same six clubs who secured their places from the Top 14 standings as last season while in England, Gloucester return to Europe's top table after a one-year absence, and Exeter Chiefs have qualified for a second successive season.
Meanwhile, both Toulon and Clermont and have secured Tier 1 status in the ERC European rankings for the first time, along with Toulouse and three Irish clubs, Leinster, Munster and Ulster in advance of next month's pool draw.
Heineken Cup qualifiers:
+ France (Six automatic places, maximum of seven)
+ England (Six automatic places, maximum of seven)
+ Ireland (Three automatic places, maximum of four)
+ Wales (Three automatic places, maximum of four)
+ Scotland (Two places)
+ Italy (Two places)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland