EDINBURGH have been handed the toughest possible start to their campaign in the European Challenge Cup this season – a visit to Saracens on the weekend of 10-12 December. Mike Blair’s team then sit out round two in the new format for the pool stage of the competition before they face another trip, to London Irish, on 14-16 January.
They then have back-to-back games against French clubs, Brive and Pau, in rounds four and five, which will be held over the weekends of 21-23 January and 8-10 April respectively.
The first phase of the Challenge Cup consists of three pools of five clubs, with Edinburgh in Pool C. The three highest-ranked clubs from each pool, plus the best fourth-placed team, will then go through to the last 16 along with the teams which finish in places nine, ten and 11 in each of the two groups of 12 in the Champions Cup.
Glasgow already knew they would be facing Exeter and La Rochelle in the pool stage of the Champions Cup. Today’s draw means they now know that they will visit the French side in their first match, to be played on the weekend of 10-12 December. They are then at home to Exeter the following weekend before the competition goes into its mid-season break.
Round three on January 14-16 will then see the Warriors visit Sandy Park in the reverse fixture before the pool stage ends with them welcoming La Rochelle to Scotstoun on the weekend of 21-23. The exact dates and kick-off times for all of those fixtures are expected to be announced later this month.
Meanwhile, in the URC, the Warriors’ lobbying on behalf of their fans appears to have paid off, at least partially, with news that their round-five fixture at home to Leinster will now be played on Friday, 23 October, at 7.35pm. The original kick-off time was 3pm on Saturday 24.
None of Glasgow’s home games in the opening tranche of URC fixtures was on the traditional Friday evening, provoking widespread discontent among supporters. The match at Scotstoun against the Dragons on Saturday 4 December will now start at 7.35pm rather than at 5.15pm.