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The Best And Worst Case Scenarios For The Irish Provinces In The Champions Cup Draw

The Best And Worst Case Scenarios For The Irish Provinces In The Champions Cup Draw
By Conor O'Leary Updated

After Connacht's glorious victory in the PRO12 final over Leinster, it seems to have been forgotten that this will ensure Connacht return to Europe's elite as the top seeds in the pool draw.

The team, who were singled out as the example for why the Champions Cup should just be for the 'elite' clubs. That'll tell them.

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The seeds are finalised for the PRO12 and Premiership teams, and even though there is one more round of Top 14 to play before the playoffs - we know the seven French teams that will be in the tournament.

Therefore, we can speculate about where they will finish, what seeding they will be, and what the best and worst case scenarios are for each province are.

The actual Champions Cup pool draw will take place on the 29th of June in Switzerland.

Champions Cup Pool Draw Scenarios

Top Seeds: Connacht, Saracens, Racing, and two of Leinster, Exeter, and Toulon
2nd Seeds: One of Leinster, Exeter, and Toulon; Glasgow, Exeter, Clermont and one of Ulster, Leicester, and Montpeiller
3rd Seeds: Two of Ulster, Leicester, and Montpeiller; Northampton, Scarlets, and Toulouse.
4th Seeds: Sale, Munster, Zebre, Castres, and Bordeaux.

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Connacht

Connacht being top seeds will ensure that they will most likely have a favourable draw and a path to the knockout stages. They will be looking at the draw that will see with of the second place finishers will be awarded top seeds.

Based on the potential second seeds - the easiest possible opponent could well be Exeter City, with the fourth best team from France also potentially good draw. The French teams that you'd want to draw are Castres, Bordeaux, or Toulouse - with Toulon, Racing, Clermont, and Montpeiller all clearly contenders. Zebre as fourth seeds would be delightful, or Castres or Bordeaux.

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A worst case scenario would involve some shock results in France, but it also involves drawing Leicester as third seeds and one of the top four French clubs.

Best Case Scenario: Exeter, Toulouse, Zebre
Worse Case Scenario: Toulon, Leicester, Castres

Leinster

Leinster have a 66% chance of being top seeds according to the rules of the draw - which means their best case scenario mirrors Connacht's.

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But the worst case scenario would see Leinster drop down to second seeds, and getting the likes of Saracens or Leicester, and one of France's top teams. That combined with a strong French team as the fourth seeds would represent a disaster for Leinster. Wasps are another team you'd want to avoid.

Best Case Scenario: Exeter, Toulouse, Zebre
Worse Case Scenario: Saracens, Clermont, Castres

Ulster

Ulster have a small chance to be second seeds, (33% chance exactly actually). If Exeter are the most desirable second seeds, they are also the most desirable top seeds as well. From there, Ulster's best case scenario mirrors both Leinster's and Connacht's. Zebre are definitely the team to get as fourth seeds, and if Castres or Bordeaux can make it out past the first round of the Top 14 playoffs, the rest of Europe will rejoice.

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But when the draw puts Ulster in as third seeds, it opens them up to an extremely tough draw - they can't draw Connacht or Leinster - but any of Saracens, the Top14 winners, the Top14 runners up, Wasps Leicester, and the Top 14 semi-finalists are teams they want to avoid. Ulster could get Saracens and the Top 14 runners up.

Best Case Scenario: Exeter, Toulouse, Zebre
Worse Case Scenario: Saracens, Toulon, Castres

Munster

Munster are definitely fourth seeds and are facing a really tough draw no matter what happens. You know it's bad when Glasgow appear in a best case scenario. They have to get at least one PRO12 team - that isn't an Irish province - meaning they will have to draw either Glasgow or Scarlets.

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This should mean that the draw will rely on whether they draw Exeter will decide whether they get an ok draw or a really bad draw. Glasgow wouldn't be a terrible draw based on who else it could be, so that does limit the damage for Munster a small bit.

Best Case Scenario: Exeter, Montpeiller, Scarlets
Worse Case Scenario: Racing, Glasgow , Leicester

See Also: Decoding Whether Joe Schmidt Is Bullshitting Or Not On His Squad Explanations

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