Kieran Keane’s first season in charge of Connacht will see the province play Brive, Worcester Warriors and Oyonnax in Pool 5 of the European Challenge Cup.
Connacht return to the EPCR’s second tier tournament after almost making the Champions Cup quarter-finals last January. The westerners, who have a new coaching team headed up by New Zealander Kieran Keane, reached the last-eight of the Challenge Cup in both 2015 and 2016.
The Challenge Cup pool draw took place in Neuchâtel, Switzerland earlier today, and six tough encounters await Connacht as they renew acquaintances with Brive and Worcester Warriors and face Oyonnax for the first time.
The four previous meetings with Brive saw the province pick up one win, while they have beaten Worcester Warriors twice at the Sportsground and lost on both visits to Sixways Stadium.
Brive finished eighth in the Top 14 this season and were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the Challenge Cup, while Oyonnax captured the Pro D2 title.
Worcester battled their way to an 11th place finish in the Aviva Premiership and were beaten twice by Brive in the pool stages of this year’s Challenge Cup. The 2017/18 tournament will also include Toulouse, who edged out Connacht for a Champions Cup quarter-final after Christmas, and Russian newcomers Krasny Yar.
2017/18 EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP POOLS:
POOL 1: Newcastle Falcons, Newport Gwent Dragons, Bordeaux-Bègles, Enisei-STM
POOL 2: Cardiff Blues, Sale Sharks, Lyon, Toulouse
POOL 3: Gloucester, Pau, Zebre, Agen
POOL 4: Stade Français, Edinburgh, London Irish, Krasny Yar
POOL 5: Brive, CONNACHT, Worcester Warriors, Oyonnax
EPCR KEY DATES – 2017/18 SEASON:
Round 1: October 12/13/14/15
Round 2: October 19/20/21/22
Round 3: December 7/8/9/10
Round 4: December 14/15/16/17
Round 5: January 11/12/13/14
Round 6: January 18/19/20/21
Quarter-Finals: March 29/30/31-April 1
Semi-Finals: April 20/21/22
Challenge Cup Final: Friday May 11, San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao