Northampton Saints and Bourgoin will be playing for a prestigious European title when they clash in the European Challenge Cup final at the Twickenham Stoop this coming Friday – and also a place in next season’s Heineken Cup.
Neither Northampton or Bourgoin has qualified for the 2009/2010 Heineken Cup through their domestic leagues but the Twickenham Stoop winner will be among the 24 elite clubs in Europe next season as the tournament winners.
While that issue will not be settled until late on that Friday night, the 24th place play-off match will be played in Italy a week later on Friday,May 29, between the Newport Gwent Dragons – the highest non-automatic Magners League qualifier – and the losing Italian semi-finalist who finished the higher in the regular Super 10 season.
The Scarlets’ win at Cardiff Blues last week ensured their qualification amongst the 18 teams who have booked their places in European club rugby’s premier competition.
Four former Heineken Cup champions – Munster, Leicester Tigers, Toulouse and Bath – along with Biarritz Olympique and 2009 finalists Leinster will take up the six Tier 1 places for the draw for the six pools of four teams each for the 15th season of the tournament.
2009/10 HEINEKEN CUP QUALIFIERS TO DATE:
ENGLAND (6 of 7): Leicester Tigers, Harlequins, London Irish, Bath, Sale Sharks, Gloucester
To qualify: One from London Wasps (Guinness Premiership 7th) or Northampton Saints (European Challenge Cup finalists)
FRANCE: (5 of 6): Biarritz Olympique, Perpignan, Toulouse, Stade Francais, Clermont Auvergne
To qualify: Brive or Bourgoin (European Challenge Cup finalists)
IRELAND: (3 of 3): Munster, Leinster, Ulster
ITALY (0 of 2): The Italian Championship finalists – and automatic Heineken Cup qualifiers – will be known on Saturday, May 23, after the second leg of their semi-finals.
To qualify: The two Championship finalists from Viadana, Benetton Treviso, Calvisano and Rovigo
SCOTLAND (2 of 2): Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors
WALES (3 of 3): Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets