EEERRCCCCC Draw 2014/15

If you were confused by the seeding vagaries of the draw for the EERRRRCCCCCC, you weren’t the only ones – we are Maths nerds by profession and all we could understand was that our brains were frying. Luckily, in stepped Murray Kinsella to explain it all in short, easy-to-understand words for us – thanks Murray!

When the ultra-complex draw happened, it produced tougher pools than the legacy tournament, which, as well as having 4 more teams, wasn’t as “elite”. While we had major issues with the money/power grab from the crowing money men of the Boshiership, the case for cutting teams from the HEC structure was pretty strong – and it has turned out that way, looking at the draw, with Pools 1 and 3 (with Munster and Ulster) utterly mouth-watering and the rest largely hard to call.

One pool contains three of last years semi-finalists and two collectively have six of the quarter-finalists – although this says as much about the difficulty of losing a good ranking under the HEC system than it does about the EEEEEEERCCC one. Here’s the full listing:

  1. Globo Gym, Munster, ASM Mental Stength, Sale Sharks
  2. Leinster, Castres, Quins, Wasps
  3. Toulon, Leicester Tigers, Ulster, Hard-Scrummaging Scarlets
  4. Glasgow, Montpellier, Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohh Bath, Boring Bosh Merchants Toulouse
  5. Northampton, Racing Metro, Ospreys, Treviso

Starting, as ever, with hardy traditionalists Munster, while its a tough draw, their fans are secretly quite pleased – nothing gets the pishun stirring as much as a visit of the arrogant Englishman (© Gerry) or a flaky bunch of Frenchmen. Munster will be confident of 3 home wins, and will target Sale for their away win. Given the fact that 3 out of 5 runners-up will qualify, and looking at how competitive the pools are, 4 wins and 3 bonus points (19 points) might be enough to qualify, and they’ll be aiming for that. Initially anyway.

In pool 2, Leinster have got a bit of a bye – Castres are familiar foes and rarely put 100% effort into Europe. Quins have experience but are a bit short on top quality and Wasps have neither to be frank. Leinster will be thinking of a home quarter-final – for all their attacking struggles this year, their pack and defence retains its excellent rating.

Ulster have paid the price for merely finishing fourth, drawing Toulon and Leicester. While they have made a habit of beating the Tigers in recent times, Leicester surely won’t have as many injuries and Ulster have yet to adequately replace their departing props. Toulon will be really tough, but any team with European pretensions (as Ulster have) should be beating the Scarlets twice. So, then, a simliar target to Munster – 19 points and second place. Third time to edge out the Tigers in four years?

Elsewhere, Northampton and RM92 will be happy with their draw and be confident of reaching the knockouts, and if Glasgae can re-produce their Pro12 form they might be in with a sniff, and that’s a mighty open pool. So much can depend on the timing of the fixtures and how the teams are going at the time, but we feel Leinster will definitely qualify, Munster are slight odds-against, and Ulster third favourites in their pool. Either way, the games look spectacular – worth subscribing to BT Sport though? 🙂

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  1. Barry

     /  June 10, 2014

    FYI Connacht drew Bayonne, Exeter and La Rochelle in Challenge Cup

    • The Challenge Cup post was coming tomorrow! Or probably not. Thanks for the addition 🙂

    • curates_egg

       /  June 10, 2014

      Of all the Irish sides, Connacht have definitely got the best away locations from my perspective. Might even be tempted down to Bayonne.

  2. Rava

     /  June 10, 2014

    I think you made Ulster third favourites in their group last year as well. I didn’t agree then………

    …. but I probably do this time :-((

    • Guilty as charged – we did. And were mighty delighted we got it wrong (as usual)!

      • I agree with Rava above. My reaction to the draw amounted to “Ach, bellix!”. However, a weekend in Toulon looks mightily appealing, might have to make that trip (and close my eyes at the game).

        After all the squabbling, it’s great to have Euro rugby ensured for next year.

  3. cp

     /  June 10, 2014

    Just a thought lads; To avoid confusion going forward in this new era, it would be helpful if you could preface, ala Gerry, all top-half Top14 teams as ‘Noveau Riche’, and all top half Premiership teams as ‘Moneybags’ from now on.. You know, for cross-irish-media consistency like?

  4. Munstermicko

     /  June 10, 2014

    Shame that that the Radge and Jonny show didn’t end up in the Ladies or the Liginds pools. Would have been great entertainment.

  5. Talk about a baptism of fire for the new Ulster recruits. I cannot imagine scrumtime being very fun. Toulon at Ravenhill should make for some cracker atmosphere though!

  6. Barry

     /  June 10, 2014

    Soem great away trips for Irish fans!

    Clermont’s fortress for Munster
    London for Leinster – twice! Although of course both venus are ‘out’ a bit – stick with the Quins one if you have one choice
    Ulster to Toulon
    And Connacht to Biarritz, well Bayonne but its around 10kmn away

    • Ro

       /  June 10, 2014

      Bayonne or La rochelle? eeemmmmmm! When will we get the fixture dates?

      • curates_egg

         /  June 10, 2014

        La Rochelle ain’t that bad and the Il de Re (as close as Biarritz to Bayonne) is really pretty and has some empty surf breaks (and beaches) off season. Bayonne is grand but the atmosphere in the stadium is great: (wait for the chorus)

  7. Pick 6 teams that could win this comp, ok then…..
    munster ulster leinster toulon clermont saracens
    ahh i see a problem

  8. Pool 3. looks daunting, few winning bonus points on paper – just home to Scarlets,
    Need to top pool here as a second place points total will very likely fall short.
    Ulster can emerge – so close apart from Scarlets.

    Pool 1. I bet that the Fez Boys will move their ASM home tie to Wembley, they would be scared to take on Munster there as they would be outnumbered by the visiting support.

    Maybe ASM were sick of Cotter’s long goodbye come the end and they may improve
    under new management.
    Munster have emerged from tough groups before and I will be surprised if they do not
    progress again.

    Pool 2 , Leinster should finish on top, important not face Castes away in match 1 or
    2. while they are still interested.
    If the provinces do not progress, then the Stephen Jones types will be crowing that
    it was because they had to take the RABO seriously. “Cannot mount a serious challenge
    on 2 fronts – not really big clubs – yada yada”

    For that reason alone, I hope that an Irish ream wins for this first year.

    The English and French would not sulk after one Irish win ? – surely not,!

    • Amiga500

       /  June 11, 2014

      But if a province does win – it’ll be because their noble English overlords turned the Celtic League into a competitive environment (albeit still free from relegation) which helped the thick Paddys win.

  9. Ulster really need a couple of recruits – one each side of Rory. Not a great time for them to lose their DoR. Shane Logan’s got his work cut out this summer.

    On the positive side, only having one side from England means I might get away without subscribing to BT and with bad news coming in threes, I think we’ve had our lot for a little while.

    • Munstermicko

       /  June 11, 2014

      Munster will escape their pool. Nothing rouses the pishun like the visit of the great BT overlord pet favourite Saracens. We’ll ate them up like apple tart after a communion in Thomond and they will have to resort to using their horn to drown out the Red hordes in London.

      If the westies can run them close in the greyhound track then we should be ok in the “Gates of Hell” (c Tom McGuirk)

      I think Clermonts credible impersonation of a ewe with no front legs in the semis showed just how far they can be rattled. Loathed to admit it but ape the ladyboys antics of some years back by earning of a pishun filled losing bonus away and follow with a solid win at home and we are in the clear.

      Sale although improved will be targeted as the whipping boys.

      I assume Les Dames en Bleu will be having their token Aviva Fixture for the Quins game?

      Not that I would attend that of course!

  10. It will be really interesting to see how the Irish provinces deal with both the Rabo and RCC being of equal importance. I wonder will the player resting scheme be tweaked to allow the internationals play more?
    Any article with an Irish player that I have seen, all seem to say that they get too much rest, so maybe this may not be a bad thing. Also should help gate receipts if the punters know they are going to see more of the top stars and that they are going to see less of games like Munster – Edinburgh after the game against Toulouse in the Heineken Cup where the Munster team were not there mentally at all….

  11. Stevo

     /  June 11, 2014

    While the groups do look slightly more competitive, I can’t help but feel that 3 out of 5 runners up in the quarters, as opposed to 2 out of 6, has actually made the group stages less competitive as a whole. We really don’t want to go down the the UEFA Champions League road where the group stages are a dull procession to ensure the right teams make the knockout stages.

    • That’s something I hadn’t thought of – will be interesting to see how that pans out. Largely the same sides have been making the knockouts the last 3 seasons.

      If we moved to a 4 pools of 5 sitch, with only the winner qualifying, we have 80 pool games versus 48 and lose the quarters – keep BT Sport happy. Or move to a 16 team tournament??

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