So yesterday, I forgot the details of Pro 14’s European qualification rules. As you may (almost certainly not) remember from previous seasons, qualification is based on your position within your conference, but once you’ve qualified, that no longer matters, and your seeding in the draw is based on your total points, regardless of which conference you’re in. The logic presumably is that consistency would lead to predictability, thence to boredom, and therein madness lies.
If like me, you feel silly for not knowing that eminently sensible arrangement, console yourself that Pro14 missed it themselves, and had to update their press release. This was all too late for Gerry Thornley, who didn’t get the news before his print deadline, so I don’t feel so bad.
The upshot of it all is that Connacht have now leapfrogged Glasgow, having had one point more than them after round 13, and are now the sixth-ranked team in the Pro14, and thus in Tier 3 for the draw. Cue wild celebration, a heroic victory, actually not quite.
You see the problem (as Gerry also alludes to) is that the Tier 1 teams that Connacht would have faced as a Tier 4 side, are less intimidating in European terms than the Tier 2 sides we now have to deal with. A choice of Lyon or Bordeaux has now become a toss-up between Toulon and Racing. The trade-off is that we avoid the English finalists, but the likely losing semi-finalists (Wasps/Bristol) will be no pushover.
So I’ll have a go at faking the draw again and see if our promotion has helped us (I’ll just stick in the number of wins as predicting bonus points is a bit silly):
|3||La Rochelle||Ulster |
I gave us home wins over Racing and Bristol and I still could only get us into a five-way scrap for the last slice of pudding.
So this has definitely gotten harder.
There is one hope. If a French team win the Champions Cup, they automatically go into Tier 1, which would mean second-placed Lyon drop to Tier 2, which would then give Connacht a 50/50 shot at playing them home and away, which would be far preferable to Racing or Toulon.
So sorry Leinster, I’m afraid the unbeaten season will have to come a cropper at the final hurdle 🙂
If I’ve made any other errors, there’s a comment option (that I think works).