Connacht will get their European Challenge Cup campaign underway with a trip to French side Dax on Friday October 10th.
Connacht, in Pool 1 alongside Dax, London Irish and Rugby Rovigo, will play their first home game of the tournament a week later when they play host to Heineken Cup semi finalists London Irish.
Connacht will be aiming to do better than last season when they finished third in their pool behind Newcastle Falcons and Brive with three wins from six.
The European Challenge Cup will be first under the spotlight on each of the first four weekends of next season’s European club rugby action with a live televised Thursday night match.
Two European Challenge Cup games will be broadcast live in each Round with Tana Umaga’s Toulon – who have signed international back row forwards Jerry Collins (New Zealand) and Johann van Niekerk (South Africa) – and 2000 Heineken Cup winners Northampton Saints kicking-off the new season on Thursday, 9 October, with their Pool 2 contest screened on FR4 and Sky Sports.
And on the Friday night Montpellier, who now include former All Blacks scrum half Justin Marshall, who has joined Montpellier from the Ospreys, will play in the other televised Pool 2 game when the French club take on Bristol Rugby live on Eurosport France with the TV cameras at Brive and Northampton Saints in Round 2.
Due to venue and potential weather restrictions in Romania – and following consultation with the clubs involved – Bucuresti Oaks will play their three home fixtures at the earliest possible dates to avoid the challenge of a Romania winter and the possibility of major fixture disruptions.
The Romanian team, who will then play their three away fixtures in Rounds 4, 5 and 6, have taken part in the last three tournaments as Bucuresti but will compete as Bucuresti Oaks in the 2008 / 2009 European Challenge Cup.
POOL 1: London Irish, Connacht Rugby, Dax, Rugby Rovigo
POOL 2: Northampton Saints, Bristol Rugby, Montpellier, Toulon
POOL 3: Bourgoin, Worcester Warriors, Petrarca Rugby, Bucuresti Oaks
POOL 4: Newcastle Falcons, Brive, Overmach Rugby Parma, Cetransa El Salvador
POOL 5: Saracens, Viadana, Bayonne, Stade Montois