The HEC Draw: It’s Complicated

The HEC draw take place on 7th June, and Ye Gods, it’s fraught with complications. As many a kickyball commentator would put it, you’d need a Maths degree to work out the permutations. In all honesty, it wouldn’t hurt.

The pools look as follows, with a Cordite Rating determining the attractiveness, or lack thereof, of each side:

Pool 1 Cordite Rating
Leinster Stench
Toulouse Stench
Munster Whiff
Cardiff Blues Odourless
Biarritz Olympique Slight Whiff
Leicester Tigers Stench

Pool 2
Northampton Saints Stench
ASM Clermont Auvergne Stench
Ospreys Odourless
Bath Rugby Slight Whiff
Harlequins Whiff
London Irish Slight Whiff
Pool 3
Ulster Rugby Whiff
Saracens Whiff
Gloucester Rugby Slight Whiff
Glasgow Warriors Odourless
Scarlets Slight Whiff
Edinburgh Odourless
Pool 4
Connacht Rugby Odourless
Castres Olympique Slight Whiff
Benetton Treviso Slight Whiff
Montpellier Whiff
Racing Métro 92 Whiff
Aironi Rugby Odourless

The rules are thus: there moust be one English team and one French team in each group, and one group will include two English teams (one of which will be Gloucester, as the lowest ranked English side).  None of the other nations’ sides can be paired together.  And because there is only one French team in Pool 2 and none in Pool 3, it means that Leinster and Munster are much more likely to be assigned a French team from the fourth pot.  Put it this way: the only chance they have of getting an Italian team is by drawing Clermont and getting Sarries into the bargain- not an ideal scenario however you care to look at it.

Now, look at Ulster’s perspective.  They can’t be drawn with Leinster or Munster, so they stand a great chance of getting either Toulouse or Biarritz as their top seeds, and failing this, they can also get Clermont from Pool 2.  If this happens they can’t get another French team from Pot 4, and they can’t get Connacht either, so the only teams left are Italian teams.  So, Ulster getting a group like last year is in fact very likely indeed.

As for Biarritz, who apparently fix the draw in their favour every year, well, sadly for conspiracy theorists, they do have a very good chance of picking up an Italian team simply by dint of being French and in Pool 1, both of which are of course self-sustaining (unless that part of the Basque country secedes to Spain).  They can’t get any of their fellow countrymen from Pool 4, so they simply must be drawn with either Connacht, Treviso or Aironi.

So, looking at possible draws the Irish sides can get, we have…

The Good…

Leinster / Munster: London Irish – Glasgow – Castres
Ulster: Biarritz – Bath – Aironi (sound familiar?)
Connacht: Biarritz – London Irish – Glasgow

The Bad…

Leinster / Munster: Northampton – Gloucester – Racing Metro
Ulster: Toulouse- Northampton – Treviso
Connacht: Toulouse- Northampton – Gloucester

… and the Away-trip Friendly

Leinster / Munster: Bath – Edinburgh – Racing Metro
Ulster: Toulouse – Bath – Treviso
Connacht: Toulouse- Bath – Edinburgh

Probably best not to think about it too much and just hope you get to visit at least one lovely city, and try to avoid Northampton, Clermont and Saracens if you can.

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