Next month's draw for the 2006/07 Heineken Cup will involve seedings - with the number one seeds from each country being drawn in separate pools.
The criteria for seeding differs from country to country. In England, France and Italy, this will be decided by the winner of each respective domestic championship. In the three Celtic countries, the top seed will be decided by performances in the Celtic League. With Leinster and Ulster battling it out for League honours, current Heineken Cup champions Munster will not be in the reckoning for the top seed berth.
Five of the pools will have no more than one team from each country included. One of the pools will have boast two French teams as France has earned an additional seventh place for their teams by virtue of being the most successful country, out of England, Italy and France, during this season's tournament.
21 of the 24 participants for next year's Heineken Cup have already been decided upon. Italian duo Benetton Treviso and Calvisano are the latest teams to qualify - they meet in the Italian Super 10 final at Monza's Stadio Brianteo on Saturday.
The seventh French spot and the second Scottish place are still up for grabs. Border Reivers, who sit in ninth position in the Celtic League, and the tenth-placed Glasgow Warriors are hoping to join Edinburgh Gunners in qualifying. Whilst the final weekend in the Top 14 will see either Castres Olympique, who currently lie seventh in the French championship, or the eighth-ranked Clermont Auvergne secure the final French spot.
2006/07 HEINEKEN CUP QUALIFIERS TO DATE (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER):
ENGLAND - (six of six) - Gloucester, Leicester Tigers, London Irish, London Wasps, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks
FRANCE - (six of seven) - Agen, Biarritz Olympique, Bourgoin, Perpignan, Stade Francais, Toulouse
IRELAND - (three of three) - Leinster, Munster, Ulster
ITALY - (two of two) - Benetton Treviso, Calvisano
SCOTLAND - (one of two) - Edinburgh Gunners
WALES - (three of three) - Cardiff Blues, Llanelli Scarlets, Ospreys
Play-Off - The 24th and final position will be decided upon when Newport Gwent Dragons, the highest non-qualifying team from the Celtic nations, meet Overmach Parma, losing Italian semi-finalists who finished third in the Super 10 table, in a qualification play-off. That winner-takes-all clash has been set for Rodney Parade on Friday, June 2 (kick-off 7.45pm).