London Irish will travel to Russia for the first time in the club’s illustrious history after they were drawn in Pool 4 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup alongside Krasny Yar.
The Exiles will make the 4,500 mile trip to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, a remote city which is the beating heart of Russian rugby. Closer to China than mainland Europe, this Russian outpost will test Nick Kennedy’s men to the limit as their European adventure reconvenes following a year’s absence from the competition.
Irish’s other opponents are last season’s Challenge Cup winners Stade Français Paris and Pro12 outfit Edinburgh Rugby. Stade Français missed out on a Champions Cup spot after they were narrowly beaten by Northampton Saints in the end of season play-off. Next season’s Challenge Cup victors will automatically qualify for European Rugby’s premier competition.
Greig Tonks and Mike Coman will return to their former stomping ground of Edinburgh, a side that reached the Challenge Cup Final in 2015 where they lost out to Gloucester at the Twickenham Stoop.
“It’s an exciting draw for the supporters, players, staff and everyone associated with the club,” said London Irish Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy.
“These are the games that you aspire to play in during your professional career and I’m sure the players are relishing the opportunity of playing in Europe next season.
“We know that it’s going to be extremely tough against three quality teams in our pool, and we’re looking forward to testing ourselves on the European stage.”
WHEN WILL THE MATCHES BE PLAYED IN 2017/18?
Round 1: 12/13/14/15 October 2017
Round 2: 19/20/21/22 October 2017
Round 3: 7/8/9/10 December 2017
Round 4: 14/15/16/17 December 2017
Round 5: 11/12/13/14 January 2018
Round 6: 18/19/20/21 January 2018
Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March / 1 April 2018
Semi-finals: 20/21/22 April 2018
European Rugby Challenge Cup Final: Friday 11 May 2018 (San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao)
HOW THE POOL STAGE FIXTURES WILL BE SCHEDULED
The process of confirming the fixtures for the European Rugby Challenge Cup will begin now that the pools have been confirmed.
The scheduling process includes consultation with the 40 competing clubs, league bodies and broadcast partners across each territory with the fixtures being confirmed in August.
Be part of the London Irish family with a 2017/18 Season Membership. Great value from £295 for adults and under 13s are free for 18 home games and much more. Visit www.london-irish.com/membership or call 0118 968 1016 to find out more.