19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been selected for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia.
A minimum of 17 live European Challenge Cup games will be broadcast by France Televisions, Sky Sports and Eurosport France, the latter becoming ERC's newest broadcast partner.
The tournament will also see three European fixtures played on Thursday evenings with Sale Sharks hosting two Thursday fixtures and one at Newcastle Falcons in the opening four rounds.
The match that will launch the tournament will be televised by Sky Sports and France 4 when Sale Sharks meet Montpellier at Edgeley Park on Thursday, November 8 (kick-off 7.45pm) while Eurosport France will show Auch against Bath Rugby in Pool 1 on the Saturday (8.45pm).
The addition of televised pool stage matches is set to provide a massive boost to the competition and further enhance its stature across Europe.
"This is fantastic news for everyone involved in European club rugby and especially for the players and fans of the 20 teams competing for the European Challenge Cup title," said ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux.
"The tournament has previously enjoyed televised matches at the knock-out stages but the profile of the European Challenge Cup will be considerably heightened right from the first day of the tournament in early November.
"The increased interest from broadcasters reflects the growing quality of European rugby action on offer in the tournament with players such as Carl Hayman, Luke McAllister, Butch James, Rico Gear, Jonny Wilkinson, Sebastian Chabal and many, many more set to compete for European club glory.
"The standard and intensity of the matches reaches new heights each season and I am sure we are in for another outstanding competition."
2007/08 EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP POOLS:
POOL 1: Bath Rugby, Albi, Overmach Rugby Parma, Auch
POOL 2: Montauban, Worcester Warriors, Gran Parma, Bucuresti
POOL 3: CONNACHT, Brive, Newcastle Falcons, Cetransa El Salvador
POOL 4: Bayonne, Sale Sharks, Petrarca Rugby, Montpellier
POOL 5: Rugby Calvisano, Castres Olympique, Leeds Carnegie, Dax