The Runner Sports

2017-18 Challenge Cup & Champions Cup Pools Announced

In the past two weeks the three top-level European domestic rugby competitions crowned their respective champions, and a week prior, European glory was earned. Before turning in for the summer in favor of international play, both through the June Test window and the always anticipated British and Irish Lions Tour, the table must be set for next year’s action.

On Thursday morning, the official Champions Cup pool draw took place, giving us a few juicy pool matches to hold our anticipation over the long summer.

Champions Cup

Pool 1 Pool 2 Pool 3 Pool 4 Pool 5
Harlequins Clermont Exeter Chiefs Castres Bath
La Rochelle Northampton Saints Glasgow Warriors Leicester Benetton
Ulster Ospreys Leinster Munster RC Toulon
Wasps Saracens Montpellier Racing 92 Scarlets

The three domestic winners find themselves in Pools 2 (Clermont – Top 14), 3 (Exeter – Premiership), and 5 (Scarlets – Pro 12).

An intriguing series of matchups looms in Pool 2 as this year’s cup final participants will duke it out. Clermont and the Saracens treated us to a thriller, with the Saracens pulling away late to win their second straight Champions Cup. The Sarries will enter next year having gone 18 Champions Cup matches without a loss with the ultimate dream of becoming just the second team to win three cups in a row. While the Saracens stole European glory, they failed to make it a second double title season, falling to the Exeter Chiefs in Premiership semi-final play. Clermont would find what eluded them so often to win the club’s second Top 14 title over RC Toulon.

The pool draw for the Challenge Cup simultaneously took place, with some promising pools for top-level teams.

Challenge Cup

Pool 1 Pool 2 Pool 3 Pool 4 Pool 5
Bordeaux-Begles Cardiff Blues Agen Edinburgh Brive
Enisei-STM Lyon Gloucester Krasny Yar Connacht
Newcastle Falcons Sale Sharks Pau London Irish Oyonnax
Newport Gwent Dragons Toulouse Zebre Stade Francais Worcester Warriors

2017 Challenge Cup winners Stade Francais will make a repeat trip to the Challenge Cup after posting a less than stellar 12-1-13 season in the Top 14. They’ll draw an Edinburgh team that has floundered over the past decade, but still represents a constantly improving, albeit funds depleted, Scotland Rugby Union. They did manage to make the quarter-finals in last year’s Challenge Cup. Additionally, they’ll face a London Irish team fresh off a promotion from the Greene King IPA Championship, returning to the Premiership after a season away. Lastly, they’ll see Krasny Yar, eight-time winners out of the Russian Professional League.

 

The cup finales will take place at San Mamés in Bilboa, Spain, representing the first time the cup final will be played for in Spain, and outside the traditional rugby territories. It should make for a fantastic opportunity for the Spanish Rugby Federation. It’s a nice step forward for the progression of European rugby.

We await for the fall as first fixtures usually occur in the beginning half of October. Stay tuned for full fixtures now that the pools are all made up.

Tyler Arnold

Tyler Arnold

I am the founder and editor-in-chief of The Runner Sports. I've been an avid sports fan since I was a child and have turned that love into a profession. I will watch, comment, and break down anything I can get my hands on, from football to white water rafting in the Olympics. Your visit means a lot to me, so thank you for your readership.
Tyler Arnold