Cardiff Blues' opponents for the 2018/19 Heineken Champions Cup pool stages will be unveiled this week, with the draw set to take place in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Wales' Capital Region return to Europe's premier tournament this season, after qualifying via the Guinness PRO14, and have been named in fourth seed for the draw, alongside Bath Rugby, RC Toulon, Ulster Rugby and Gloucester Rugby.
Cardiff Blues picked up the Challenge Cup for the second time in their history last season, following a dramatic victory over Gloucester in the final in Bilbao.
Former international scrum-halves - Austin Healy and Dmitri Yachvili - will be conducting the draw on behalf of the tournament broadcasters, with Sarra Elgan (BT Sport) and Raphaël Ibañez (France Télévisions) hosting.
The draw will be streamed live on www.epcrugby.com and the tournament's Facebook channels, with the Challenge Cup getting underway at 2.00pm BST, before moving imminently to the Champions Cup draw.
Pool draws – key principles
- The 20 clubs are divided into four tiers based on their qualifying positions from the leagues, or on other official qualification criteria. This will be done where necessary by a draw.
- The 20 clubs will then be drawn into five pools of four clubs each.
- Each pool will have at least one club from each of the three leagues.
- Each of the five pools will have one club from each of the four tiers.
- There will be no more than two clubs from the same league in a pool.
- No pool will contain two PRO14 clubs from the same country.
- Clubs from the same league will be kept apart until the allocation of the Tier 4 clubs.
- In the Challenge Cup draw, a club from the Continental Shield cannot be drawn into a pool which contains two TOP 14 clubs or two Premiership clubs.
Tier 1 will include the three championship winners from the TOP 14, Premiership, and the PRO14.
Tier 1 will also include two of the three clubs which are ranked second from the TOP 14, the Premiership and the PRO14. The two clubs will be decided by a draw in advance of the draw for the pools.
Tier 2 will include the three clubs which are ranked third from the TOP 14, the Premiership and the PRO14.
Tier 2 will also include the second-ranked club which was not drawn into Tier 1, and the club which is ranked fourth from the same league as the club which was not drawn into Tier 1.
Tier 3 will include the two fourth-ranked clubs which are not in Tier 2. Tier 3 will also include the three clubs which are ranked fifth from each league.
Tier 4 will include the three clubs which are ranked sixth in the leagues, as well as Ulster Rugby, the seventh-ranked club from the PRO14, and Gloucester Rugby.
EPCR key dates – 2018/19 season
Round 1: 12/13/14 October
Round 2: 19/20/21 October
Round 3: 7/8/9 December
Round 4: 14/15/16 December
Round 5: 11/12/13 January 2019
Round 6: 18/19/20 January 2019
Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March 2019
Semi-finals: 19/20/21 April 2019
2019 Newcastle finals
Challenge Cup final: Friday 10 May, St James’ Park
Champions Cup final: Saturday 11 May, St James’ Park