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Connacht handed tough draw in next season's Challenge Cup

The western province will be in a pool with Brive, Worcester Warriors and Oyonnax.

Connacht skipper John Muldoon during their recent defeat to Northampton.
Connacht skipper John Muldoon during their recent defeat to Northampton.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT WILL FACE Brive, Worcester Warriors and Oyonnax in the pool stages of the Challenge Cup next season.

The western province failed to remain in Europe’s top competition following their eighth-place finish in the Guinness Pro12 last season, and subsequently their defeat to Northampton in the Champions Cup play-off semi-final.

In his first season in charge Kiwi coach Kieran Keane will surely be looking to plot a return to the Champions Cup and go deep into Europe’s secondary competition.

Today’s draw in Neuchatel, Switzerland has pitted Connacht — one of the tier two teams after missing out on a tier one spot in a draw — against Brive (8th in the Top 14), Worcester Warriors (11th in the Aviva Premiership) and Oyonnax (Pro D2 champions) in Pool 5.

While their will be no visits to play against Russian qualifiers like two seasons ago, Connacht are facing two tricky trips to France and one to England as they attempt to clinch a quarter-final spot.

Challenge Cup draw

Pool 1
Newcastle Falcons
Newport-Gwent Dragons
Bordeaux-Begles
Enisei-STM

Pool 2
Cardiff Blues
Sale Sharks
Lyon
Toulouse

Pool 3 
Gloucester
Pau
Zebre
Agen

Pool 4
Stade Francais Paris
Edinburgh
London Irish
Krasny Yar

Pool 5
Brive
Connacht
Worcester Warriors
Oyonnax

EPCR key dates – 2017/18 season

  • Round 1: 12/13/14/15 October
  • Round 2: 19/20/21/22 October
  • Round 3: 7/8/9/10 December
  • Round 4: 14/15/16/17 December
  • Round 5: 11/12/13/14 January 2018
  • Round 6: 18/19/20/21 January 2018
  • Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March – 1 April 2018
  • Semi-finals: 20/21/22 April 2018

Bilbao Finals 2018

Challenge Cup final: Friday 11 May, San Mamés Stadium

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Alan Waldron

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