Saints would have home advantage in Champions Cup play-off

Jim Mallinder's Saints still harbour top-four hopes (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Jim Mallinder's Saints still harbour top-four hopes (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints will face a Champions Cup play-off against the ninth ranked team in the Guinness PRO12 should they finish seventh in the Aviva Premiership this season.

Jim Mallinder’s men are currently sixth in the standings and are still aiming to finish in the top four with five games of the regular season remaining.

They are now just four points behind Bath in the race for the league play-offs, but should they finish the season in disappointing fashion, they could struggle to qualify automatically for the Champions Cup.

Saints are currently just two points ahead of seventh-placed Harlequins and have a tricky run-in that sees Mallinder’s men face Leicester, Wasps, Saracens, Exeter and Quins.

The Premiership top six qualify for the Champions Cup, but the seventh-placed side will have to go down a play-off route if they want to make it into Europe’s top tier tournament.

One English side, two PRO12 teams and one Top 14 outfit will be involved in the semi-finals on the weekend of May 19.

If Saints are involved and manage to beat the PRO12’s ninth ranked side, they will face the winner of the game between the seventh-placed side in the Top 14 and the eighth-placed team in the PRO 12.

Saints, who would play their play-off semi-final at Franklin’s Gardens, would also have home advantage in the final, to be played on the weekend of May 26, thanks to the draw, which was made on Wednesday.

The winner of the final will take the 20th place in the 2017/18 Champions Cup.

The remaining 18 clubs from the Aviva Premiership, the PRO12 and the Top 14 which have not qualified for the Champions Cup will play in the 2017/18 Challenge Cup.

The 19th and 20th places will go to the two Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition finalists.