How can Munster secure Champions Cup qualification? Is it enough to finish in the top 6 of the Pro12? Can all four Irish provinces qualify? I put together this short blog to confirm the qualification rules, taken from the official sites.
• PRO12: The seven highest-ranked clubs based on their finishing positions in the league. The seven qualifiers must include at least one club from each of Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
To facilitate Rugby World Cup 2015 and to avoid fixture congestion, there will be no play-offs for the 2016/17 Champions Cup with the 20th place in the tournament going to the winner of the 2016 Challenge Cup.
If the winner of the 2016 Challenge Cup is already qualified, that club will earn a place in the 2016/17 Champions Cup for the highest-ranked club from its league which has not already qualified.
Therefore it is possible for all four Irish provinces to qualify but ONLY if there is only 1 Welsh and 1 Scottish team in the Top 6. If say two Welsh teams are in the Top 6 with the 4 Irish provinces then the lowest placed Irish / Welsh province would lose out to the best of the Scottish teams (thanks to Piquet for pointing out this possibility) . One of the 7 places is reserved for the best of the Italian teams.
It could get interesting were Connacht to win the Challenge Cup and also qualify for the Champions Cup through their Pro12 league position at the end of the season as that would open up an 8th place for a Pro12 team.
Looking at the current table Glasgow have 2 games in hand so could well force their way into the Top 6 in the coming weeks while Ospreys are well within striking range also.
Given how close the league is currently with just 4 points between the top 6 teams – and after those games in hand are played it could be even tighter – it is worth checking out the rules of the Pro12 also to see what happens if teams are tied on the same number of league points at the end of the season:
Placings will be determined by the following criteria in descending order:
- number of matches won;
- the difference between points for and points against;
- the number of tries scored;
- the most points scored;
- the difference between tries for and tries against;
- the fewest number of suspensions;
- the fewest number of yellow cards received;
- Toss of a coin.
The points difference is not very healthy for Munster at the moment (-13) but there are plenty of games left to improve that and rediscover the type of form which gave Munster a very healthy points difference last season. Teams will all take points off each other in the remaining rounds. Some will be impacted more than others by the disruption of the Six Nations. So as you can see there are plenty of permutations and possibilities to consider as the rest of the season unfolds. For a bit of fun take my 2 question prediction survey and we’ll see how many have it right on May 9th! I will provide an update on the results in the next blog.
Peter O’Mahony is quoted in the Independent: “I’d expect to play again this season, definitely. It’ll be around April or May time. But I will know over the next four or five weeks for sure. I will be able to put a date on it” and his return will be a big boost as is the commitment to the province of Simon Zebo. Now that he has equalled Anthony Horgan’s all time try-scoring record I look forward to seeing him set a new bar for those coming behind him in the next two seasons and beyond.
Hopefully this weekend – the first break for the players since the cancellation of the Paris game in November – will give the players a chance to unwind and recharge. A good result on Valentines day against the Ospreys in Cork will give them the perfect start to the rest of the season as they set out to navigate through 5 home and 5 away games to secure a Top 4 finish (ideally Top 2 for a home semi-final). Away trips to Glasgow, Dublin and Galway and a finish at home to Scarlets could mean we are in for a rollercoaster ride between now and the beginning of May!
Can you imagine anything more romantic than spending Valentine’s evening in the Red Shed, out in the open air, sharing a pack of chips, a bar of chocolate or a hip flask with your nearest and dearest? If you want to go all out for the occasion check out the Munster Rugby competition:
Updated: May 1st: after 21 rounds there is still a lot to play for in the final week of the normal season. Unfortunately Munster cannot make the play-offs but their opponents Scarlets can so will be coming to Thomond with a lot to play for…
Even if Munster were to get a winning BP and deny Scarlets any points from the encounter (to be tied on points) they cannot overtake Scarlets due to their inferior number of games won this season.
Munster are still at risk of being overtaken by Ospreys or Edinburgh for Champions Cup qualification. They play Ulster and Cardiff respectively next weekend with all games kicking off at 3pm so it will be a tense afternoon. They both also have home advantage. Hopefully Munster will not be depending on favours from others but will secure Champions Cup qualification in Thomond.