Leinster, Saracens and Toulon are guaranteed top seeding when the pool draw for the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup takes place at the Stade de la Maladière in Neuchatel, Switzerland on Tuesday (12pm Irish time).
This key EPCR event will get underway with the pool draw for the 2014/15 European Rugby Challenge Cup at noon Irish time, which will be followed immediately by the draw for the European Rugby Champions Cup pools.
Both draws will be broadcast live by BTsport.com, Sky Sports News,TG4 and Infosport + and will also be streamed live on www.epcrugby.com.
Craig Doyle of BT Sport and Raphael Ibanez will be joint comperes in Neuchatel with former London Wasps and Toulon player Simon Shaw and Sky Sports' Welsh legend Scott Quinnell on hand to conduct the draws.
Twenty clubs from the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and the PRO12 have booked their places in the 2014/15 European Rugby Champions Cup, and for the first time, the teams have qualified on merit.
For the purposes of the pool draw, the Aviva Premiership clubs are ranked according to their finishing positions in the league table, so Saracens are top seeds with Northampton Saints ranked number two.
The Top 14 and PRO12 sides are ranked based on their league performances and on their qualification for the knockout stages of their competitions. So reigning European and Top 14 champions Toulon and PRO12 champions Leinster are also confirmed among the top seeds.
The 20 teams will be divided into four tiers of five based on their qualification positions from the leagues.
A draw will be conducted in advance to establish Tier 1 with two of the three second-ranked clubs - Northampton Saints, Castres Olympique and Glasgow Warriors - joining Saracens, Toulon and Leinster in the top tier.
Once Tier 1 has been established, the remaining three tiers will fall into place. The draw for the five pools will then be made based on the tiers, and during the draw, some teams may have to be placed directly into a pool in order to ensure that certain key principles apply (see below).
In Tier 4, Sale Sharks and London Wasps will be drawn into pools which contain one other Aviva Premiership club, and Toulouse will be drawn into a pool which contains one other Top 14 club.
Stade Francais Paris, Exeter Chiefs and Cardiff Blues are confirmed among the top seeds for the 2014/15 European Rugby Challenge Cup which will be conducted on similar lines with four tiers and five pools.
In Tier 4, Oyonnax, Lyon and La Rochelle will be drawn into pools which contain one other Top 14 club.
European Rugby Champions Cup Qualification
For the purposes of creating the tiers, the Aviva Premiership clubs are ranked based on their league table finishing positions in advance of the knockout phase. The Top 14 and PRO12 teams are ranked based on their league performances and on their qualification for the knockout stages.
For sides who did not qualify for the knockout phases of their leagues, or who were eliminated at the same stage of the knockout phase, rankings are decided by league table finishing positions.
1. Saracens/Toulon/Leinster 2. Northampton Saints/Castres Olympique/Glasgow Warriors 3. Leicester Tigers/Montpellier/Munster 4. Harlequins/Racing Metro 92/Ulster 5. Bath/Clermont Auvergne/Ospreys 6. Sale Sharks/Toulouse/Scarlets 7. London Wasps/Benetton Treviso
European Rugby Challenge Cup Qualification
For the purposes of creating the tiers, the teams are ranked based on their finishing positions in the Top 14, Aviva Premiership, PRO12 and PRO D2 leagues, or on their qualification via a play-off.
- The 20 teams are divided into four tiers based on their qualification position from their leagues. This will be done in advance by a draw
- Each of the five pools will have at least one side from each of the three leagues
- Each of the five pools will have one side from each of the four tiers
- There will be no more than two teams from the same league in a pool
- No pool will contain two PRO12 sides from the same country
- Teams from the same league will be kept apart until the allocation of the Tier 4 sides
Ireland international Iain Henderson will start at lock for Ulster for the first time this season, following his appearance in the back row last weekend. He will combine with fellow Ireland international Dan Tuohy in the second row
Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce the extended contract of Ireland international Kieran Marmion. The 23-year-old, who was first capped for Ireland in the summer of 2014, has put pen to paper on a new two-year contract with Connacht Rugby.