Familiar foes for Connacht in Champions Cup draw

Connacht will face two trips to the south of France and a jaunt over to the West Country in England as the province returns to European club rugby's top table after a two year absence.

Andy Friend's men were seeded in tier three for the draw taking place in Lausanne, Switzerland, and were placed in Pool 5 where they will face familiar continental foes, Toulouse and Gloucester, as well as big spending Montpellier, in the Westerners' fifth outing in the Champions Cup.

It is the fourth time the province has been drawn in the same pool as newly crowned Top 14 champions Toulouse, after previously clashing with the Rouge et Noir in the 2011/12, 2013/14, and 2016/17 campaigns. On those occasions, Connacht have only got the better of the Occitan outfit twice, a famous 16-14 away victory at the Stade Ernest Wallon in 2013 and a 23-21 success in 2016 at the Sportsground.

Connacht supporters will be also be used to journeys to Kingsholm after being drawn against Gloucester in the 2011/12 European Cup campaign as well as a quarter-final challenge cup ties in 2015 and 2018. Gloucester triumphed in all four clashes, however the highest winning margin was only a converted try.

Fourth seed in Connacht's pool will be the dangerous Montpellier who the province have faced in European competition no fewer than eight times. Connacht have won six of the meetings, all coming in Challenge Cup in the 2004/5, 2005/6, 2007/8, and 2009/10.

This season's tournament will kick-off in November as opposed to its regular slot in October due to the Rugby World Cup and the final will be held in Marseille's Orange Vélodrome on Saturday May 23.

Wednesday's draw follows on from Monday's announcement from the Guinness Pro14 that Friend's charges will be competing in conference B for the next two seasons after being seeded as Ireland's fourth team. Connacht will face Munster, Edinburgh, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Benetton, and Southern Kings, who they will face home and away over the course of the season.

Again the kick-off to the competition will be delayed in order to facilitate the Rugby World Cup. The final will be played in June at the Cardiff City Stadium.


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