Heineken Cup spots still up for grabs
May 21, 2009
The competition for places in next season's Heineken Cup is still on © Getty Images
With the Heineken Cup final between Leicester and Leinster set to light up Murrayfield on Saturday eyes will soon be looking to next season's edition of Europe's top Cup competition. Competition for places has been fierce across Europe's top leagues, although there are a few places still up for grabs in the end-of-season shake up.
Northampton and Bayonne go head-to-head in Friday's European Challenge Cup final at the Twickenham Stoop, with the winner taking their place at the top table next season. With neither side having qualified by right from their league standing this leaves the door open to Wasps. Their seventh place Premiership finish will grant them a Heineken Cup place should Bourgoin take the spoils in London.
Biarritz wrapped up the final place for a French side with their weekend win over Montauban, while the picture is not yet clear in the Magners League or Italian Super 10. Newport Gwent Dragons, who finished ninth in the Magners table, travel to Italy on May 29 to play the losing Super 10 semi-finalist that finished highest in the regular season table.
The tier one sides for next season's tournament are Munster, Toulouse, Leinster, Leicester, Bath and Biarritz, with these sides being kept apart in the pool stages of the 2010 tournament.
Heineken Cup qualifiers 2010:
England (6 of 7): Leicester Tigers, Harlequins, London Irish, Bath Rugby, Sale Sharks, Gloucester Rugby To qualify: One from London Wasps (Guinness Premiership seventh) or Northampton Saints (European Challenge Cup finalists)
France: (5 of 6): Perpignan, Toulouse, Stade Francais Paris, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Biarritz. To qualify: One from Brive and Bourgoin (European Challenge Cup finalists)
Ireland: (3 of 3): Munster, Leinster, Ulster
Italy (0 of 2): The Italian Championship finalists - and automatic Heineken Cup qualifiers - will be known on Saturday, May 23, after the second leg of their semi-finals. To qualify: The two Championship finalists from Viadana, Benetton Treviso, Rugby Calvisano and Rugby Rovigo
Scotland (2 of 2): Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors
Wales (3 of 3): Ospreys, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets. To qualify: Newport Gwent Dragons via the playoff against an Italian side.