LONDON Irish have been drawn against Scarlets, Toulon and Bayonne in Pool 2 of the Challenge Cup for the 2019/20 season.
Irish will face a tough test when they face off against Welsh side Scarlets as well as two French teams in Toulon and Bayonne. Each team will play each other twice in the pool stages, once at home and once away, with the top two sides qualifying for the knockout rounds of the competition.
Three time winners of the Heineken Cup/European Rugby Champions Cup, Toulon, may prove to be the trickiest opponents in the pool. The French outfit also have experience of this competition having twice been runners-up, in 2009/10 and again in 2011/12.
Irish last competed in the Challenge Cup in the 2017/18 season where they were eliminated in the pool stages in a group consisting of Edinburgh, Stade Francais and Krasny Yar. The Exiles finished third in the group despite a remarkable 44-7 triumph away at Stade Francais.
Irish’s best ever finish in the competition came in 2005/06 where they finished as runners-up in the tournament after they were cruelly beaten by Gloucester in extra-time of the final which was contested at the Twickenham Stoop.
Irish will be hoping to add some silverware to their cabinet in their final season in Reading at the Madejski Stadium before they relocate to London for the start of the 2020/21 season, with the Challenge Cup Final being contested at Stade de Marseille on Friday 22nd May.
Full Challenge Cup draw:
Pool 1: Castres Olympique, Worcester Warriors, Dragons, Enisei-STM
Pool 2: Scarlets, RC Toulon, London Irish, Bayonne
Pool 3: Wasps, Edinburgh Rugby, Bordeaux-Begles, Agen
Pool 4: Cardiff Blues, Leicester Tigers, Pau, Rugby Calvisano
Challenge Cup 2019/20 fixtures:
Round 1: 15/16/17th November 2019
Round 2: 22/23/24th November 2019
Round 3: 6/7/8th December 2019
Round 4: 13/14/15th December 2019
Round 5: 10/11/12th January 2020
Round 6: 17/18/19th January 2020
Quarter-finals: 3/4/5th April 2020
Semi-finals: 1/2/3rd May 2020
Final: Friday 22nd May