Connacht Are Better Off Losing To Munster This Weekend And Here’s Why
Connacht are better off losing this weekend to Munster because of the bizarre layout of the Champions Cup play-offs.
The only way Connacht can get into the Champions Cup next season is through the new play-off system. The western province currently lie eight in the PRO12 table, one place below Cardiff but are the ninth-ranked club due to the fact that one Italian team will automatically qualify.
The system does not reward PRO12 teams as no matter what they will face an away semi-final, against either a French or English club. Should they finish as the eight ranked them and leapfrog Connacht they are looking at a semi against a number of French clubs depending on results, such as Racing 92, Pau and Stade Francais.
If they finish as the ninth-ranked club however they are looking at a semi against the likes of Gloucester or Northampton. Either way it’s going to be a difficult path, but should they progress to the final as the ninth-ranked club they will be rewarded with a final at the Sportsground.
So basically, staying below Cardiff actually works in Connacht’s favour…
Champions Cup play-offs
Play-off 1: Premiership (seventh-ranked club) v PRO12 (ninth-ranked club)
Play-off 2: TOP 14 (seventh-ranked club) v PRO12 (eighth-ranked club)
Play-off Final: winner Play-off 1 v winner Play-off 2
(Winner of Play-off 1 will have home advantage)
The winner of the final will take the 20th place in the 2017/18 Champions Cup.