Connacht to face Harlequins again

Connacht will face English premiership side Harlequins in next season’s European Challenge Cup following publication of the draw yesterday.

Harlequins, who competed in the Heineken Cup last season, were seeded in the top group, which also included Sale Sharks, Bourgoin, Stade Francais and Gloucester. Connacht, seeded in the second group, will also face French side Bayonne and Italian newcomers Cavalieri Prato.

Of course Connacht and Harlequins have crossed swords before - in 2004 when Harlequins ultimately lifted the cup for the second time and two seasons later when Connacht lost both home and away.

Yet there has never been much between the sides, and Eric Elwood, while regarding Harlequins as the toughest opponents in the group, will also see these games as winnable.

Connacht will also need to be cautious against the French outfit Bayonne. Although Bayonne are seeded third in pool 1, and finished in 13th place of 14 in the French championship, any French side can be tricky, particularly at home.

The two sides have never met, but Connacht, with a strong away record to French clubs, would expect to overcome this challenge.

Also new for Connacht is a meeting with Italian outfit Cavalieri Prato. Newcomers to the Amlin Challenge Cup, Cavalieri Prato finished fourth in the Italian championship, ahead of Rovigo in their first season in the competition.

Pool 1: Harlequins, Connacht, Bayonne, Cavalieri Prato

Pool 2: Sale Sharks, Brive, Petrarca, Cetransa El Salvador

Pool 3: Bourgoin, Newcastle Falcons, Montpellier, Exeter Chiefs

Pool 4: Stade Francais, Rugby Parma, Leeds Carnegie, Bucuresti Oaks

Pool 5: Gloucester, Agen, Rovigo, La Rochelle


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