Here’s all the key information Saints supporters need to know ahead of today’s European Challenge Cup draw…
WHEN IS IT?
The draw for the knockout stages of the 2020/21 Challenge Cup tournament will take place in Lausanne, Switzerland at 12pm today (Tuesday 9 March).
HOW CAN I WATCH?
The event will be streamed live on www.challengecuprugby.com.
WHAT WILL BE DRAWN?
Both the draw for the Round of 16 and then the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup will be completed today.
WHY ARE SAINTS IN THE CHALLENGE CUP?
With two rounds of European action at the end of January falling victim to cancellations as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, EPCR have revised the formats for the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments.
After losing two Heineken Champions Cup group matches against Bordeaux-Bégles and Leinster before their two final group matches were cancelled, Northampton Saints have now been moved into the Round of 16 of the Challenge Cup.
WHICH TEAMS ARE ALSO IN THE DRAW?
London Irish, Ospreys, Leicester Tigers, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Agen, Benetton Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Bath Rugby, Montpellier, Dragons, Harlequins, and Glasgow Warriors
HOW WILL IT WORK?
For the Round of 16 in the Challenge Cup, clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against one another – however, Challenge Cup clubs and qualifiers from the Heineken Champions Cup can be drawn against one another.
With eight clubs in the draw from the PRO14, Saints are guaranteed to face a side from that league in the Round of 16 (one of Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Zebre, Benetton, Ulster, Connacht, Dragons or Glasgow Warriors).
However the subsequent draw for the quarter-finals will be open, allowing for the possibility of matches between clubs from the same league.
HOW ARE HOME/AWAY MATCHES DECIDED?
As London Irish, Leicester Tigers and Ospreys won both preliminary stage matches on the pitch – where results were not impacted by COVID-19 – they will each be guaranteed a home fixture in the Round of 16.
Therefore, if Saints draw Ospreys in the Round of 16, the match is guaranteed to be played away from home at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.
However, if Saints draw any of the other PRO14 sides in the Round of 16, a subsequent draw will then decide who has the home advantage.
No side is guaranteed home advantage in the quarter-finals, so it will all come down to how the balls are drawn in Lausanne.
EPCR KEY DATES
Knockout Stage Draws: Tuesday 9 March
Rounds of 16: 2/3/4 April
Quarter-finals: 9/10/11 April
Semi-finals: 30 April, 1/2 May
Challenge Cup final: Friday 21 May (Marseille)
Heineken Champions Cup final: Saturday 22 May (Marseille)