As the European Rugby Challenge Cup reaches the final round of the pool stage, let’s have a look how it stands at the moment.
Remember, with 5 pools competing, the first-placed teams will qualify automatically for the quarter finals, while only three of the second-placed sides will qualify.
For now, only Toulon, Bordeaux-Begles, Bristol and Leicester have already secured a place in the quarter-finals after winning their pools in Round 5. However, only Bristol Bears have secured a home quarter-final. The other three clubs will have to wait until after this weekend’s games to find out if they have that all-important home tie in the last eight, while 10 clubs still remain in competition to reach the knockout stages.
Here is how it stands:
This weekend, Pool 1 promises one of the tightest finishes ever in the European Rugby Challenge Cup after it was the only group that didn’t produce a qualifier for the quarter-finals in Round 5.
Castres Olympique lead on 18 points after overpowering Dragons 42-14 last Saturday but the Welsh region are still in the mix for the last eight, as they are on 15 points alongside Worcester Warriors, who are second in the pool.
The Pool 1 winners will be determined this Friday, when Dragons host Enisei-STM at Rodney Parade and Castres Olympique travel to Worcester Warriors.
Pool 2 front runners Toulon have already booked their spot in the QFs following their four-try, 27-15 victory at nearest challengers Scarlets on Saturday, which set them up well for their home tie with TOP 14 rivals Bayonne this Saturday.
Meanwhile, Scarlets will travel to London Irish and could get to 19 points with a bonus-point win.
With Bordeaux-Begles having already won Pool 3 in the Challenge Cup, they will be targeting a home quarter-final when they travel to Wasps’ Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
Edimburgh, who are currently the highest-ranked runner-up on 16 points, will host Agen at BT Murrayfield Stadium and attempt to secure one of the three best runner-up places.
Pool 4 winners Bristol Bears are the competition front runners with 24 match points after overwhelming Brive 52-3 last Saturday. They will try to maintain their perfect European Challenge Cup in their last fixture against Zebre Rugby. They are likely to finish as number one seeds with near maximum points from their six games, while the Italians need a win to secure their second place in the pool.
In the meantime, Brive will host their TOP 14 rivals Stade Francais Paris. They could reach second place in the pool if Bristol win over Zebre but it would probably not be enough to secure one of the three best runner-up places.
In Pool 5, Leicester Tigers are in top spot and have already assured a place in the last eight, while Pau and Cardiff Blues are still competing for a second place finish. Pau will host the Pool 5 winners Leicester Tigers, while Cardiff Blues will receive the Italian club, Rugby Calvisano.
Despite losing at Leicester Tigers last weekend, Cardiff Blues are still in contention for one of the best runners-up places in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals, but they will need a bonus-point win over Rugby Calvisano on Saturday to have a chance. They will also need Leicester to win at Pau to put them in the mix for one of the three runner-up places to fill.