Worcester Warriors will have the honour of opening another season of top flight European club rugby when they face Montpellier under the Sixways Stadium floodlights on Thursday, October 8.
Former cup runners-up Warriors have been paired with Montpellier, Connacht Rugby and Olympus Rugby XV Madrid in Pool 2 of the competition.
And Mike Ruddock’s men have now been handed the privilege of kicking off the tournament with a Round One match against French giants Montpellier at Sixways Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm).
Warriors, runners-up to Bath Rugby in 2007/08, travel to Spain to face Olympus Rugby XV Madrid in Round Two the following weekend on Saturday, October 17 (kick-off 4pm local time).
The club face a double header against Connacht Rugby in December as they welcome the Irish side to Sixways Stadium on Saturday, December 12 (kick-off 3pm) before a return trip to Galway Sportsground the following week on Friday, December 18 (kick-off 7pm)
Warriors will face Olympus Rugby XV Madrid on home soil and a away trip to Montpellier in rounds five and six. Dates for these games will be confirmed at a later date.
There will be new initiatives from this season’s competition onwards with the knock-out stages now including three teams who will qualify through the Heineken Cup.
The introduction of a trio of teams who have finished as Pool runners-up in that seasons’ Heineken Cup (the third, fourth and fifth ranked Heineken Cup Pool runners-up), to meet the five European Challenge Cup Pool winners, will enhance both the quality and profile of the European Challenge Cup knock-out matches.
The top four European Challenge Cup Pool winners will enjoy home advantage in the quarter-finals with the top Pool winner playing the 5th, while the other three Pool winners will welcome the Heineken Cup sides.
And the ERC European Ranking Points available for teams in European Challenge Cup knock-out stages have also been revised with the maximum points now available for the winner increased from five points to six.
Full broadcast schedules will be announced shortly.
European Challenge Cup Fixtures:
Thursday, October 8 – Worcester Warriors vs Montpellier (kick-off 7.45pm)
Saturday, October 17 – Olympus Rugby XV Madrid vs Worcester Warriors (kick-off 4.30pm)
Saturday, December 12 – Worcester Warriors vs Connacht Rugby (kick-off 3pm)
Friday, December 18 – Connacht Rugby vs Worcester Warriors (kick-off 7pm)
January 14/15/16/17 – Worcester Warriors vs Olympus Rugby XV Madrid (kick-off TBC)
January 21/22/23/24 – Montpellier vs Worcester Warriors (kick-off TBC)