Connacht Are Better Off Losing To Munster This Weekend And Here’s Why
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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.