Why Connacht May Not Qualify For The Champions Cup Despite Resurgence
Connacht have enjoyed a resurgence of late after a disappointing start to the season.
The reigning PRO12 champions have now won four straight games in a row thanks to a bonus-point win over Zebre at the Sportsground last night in treacherous conditions.
Connacht currently lie in seventh place in the Pro12, and are just two points behind Glasgow in sixth. Since the introduction of merit based Champions Cup qualification to the Pro12, finishing in the top six has become the target for qualification, but that might not be enough for Connacht this year.
There are seven Champions Cup places on offer, with each nation competing in the league guaranteed at least one participant, with league position dictating the next three spots.
That automatic place for each country makes Connacht’s task even more difficult this season. While they are only two points off Glasgow as things stand, even if they end up finishing ahead of the Scottish side in sixth, they still wouldn’t qualify for the Champions Cup.
Glasgow would be Scotland’s automatic representative in the competition, so Connacht would have to catch the fifth place team to make their way into next season’s tournament- Ulster.
Les Kiss’ men couldn’t overcome difficult conditions in Ravenhill last night to secure a try-bonus over Treviso, but still got the win, leaving them 13 points ahead of Connacht.
There is still a chance Pat Lam’s side will qualify for next year’s Champions Cup however as the two highest ranked teams in the league who haven’t qualified will take part in a four-team playoff with the highest ranked side in England and France who haven’t made the cut.
Unfortunately for the Pro12 sides, they will be drawn away for the playoff semi-final, making the task once again even more difficult.