Connacht are virtually certain to join the other three Irish provinces in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup following an agreement reached by the board of Celtic Rugby to make the Conference tables as they stood in mid-March after 13 rounds the cut-off point for European qualification.

The two postponed games from round 13, Benetton v Ulster and Zebre v Ospreys, will be declared 0-0 draws, with two points awarded to each side.

The Irish Times is reporting that, Under current rules, the top seven in the Pro14 qualify for the Champions Cup, with Connacht currently fourth in Conference B and thus in line to face the Dragons at home were there to be a play-off for that final place.

However, it is expected that next season’s Champions Cup will be expanded to 24 teams on a one-off basis so as to simply incorporate the top eight from each of the three qualifying competitions – the Pro14, Top 14 and Premiership.

In that scenario the top four in both Conference A and B would qualify for next season’s Champions Cup, which would include all four Irish provinces along with Edinburgh, Glasgow, Scarlets and the Dragons.


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