It’s that time of year again when we find out who we’re up against in the Heineken Cup next season. It also means the start of the long haul for airfares etc. for those who travel to the away games. Anyway for those who want to know how this works the format of the draw is laid out below.
Heineken Cup Pool Draw Format
(Info lifted directly from the ERC Rugby Site).
• For the purpose of the draw the 24 qualified teams are ranked based on their ERC European rankings and are divided into four Tiers. Rankings are based on European performance over the past four seasons in the Heineken Cup and knock-out stages of the European Challenge Cup.
• Each Pool will have one team from each of the four Tier levels.
• No two teams from the same country will be drawn in the same Pool except for the seventh club from England (Harlequins based on European Ranking) which will be drawn into a Pool with another English team.
• The winner of the Heineken Cup will be seeded in the first Tier and will be drawn into a Pool first.
• The draw will have four stages starting with the allocation of six teams from Tier 1 and then moving to the next Tier.
• Allocation of Tier 1 – The Number 1 ranked team (Leinster Heineken Cup champions) will be drawn into one of the six Pools. The remaining five top Tier teams will then be drawn into the five Pool spots left available.
• For the Allocation of Tier 2, 3 and 4, the teams will be drawn starting with the teams from the country with the highest number of teams participating in the tournament England.
Therefore the order of allocation in each Tier will be teams from England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy until all teams in the Tier have been drawn.
Note as Scotland and Italy both have two teams competing, the Scottish teams will be drawn first as they are ranked higher than either Italian side.
• During each Tier allocation a team will be drawn and then a Pool number for that team from the available Pool options.
• In Tier 4 the seventh English team (Harlequins based on ranking) will be drawn into the Pools last.
• To avoid having two teams from the same country in the same Pool, some teams may be allocated to available Pool spots automatically during the course of the Draw.
Tier 1 Points
Leicester Tigers 26
Bath Rugby 20
Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque 20
Tier 2 Points
Cardiff Blues 16
Stade Francais Paris 14
Gloucester Rugby 14
London Irish 12
Tier 3 Points
Northampton Saints 12
Sale Sharks 11
ASM Clermont Auvergne 11
Ulster Rugby 7
Newport Gwent Dragons 7
Tier 4 Points
Glasgow Warriors 6
Benetton Treviso 4