Belfast Telegraph

Questions over PRO14 conference draw as Ulster join both Leinster and Glasgow

 

John Cooney tries to escape Leinster's Cian Healy in their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat at the Aviva Stadium (INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
John Cooney tries to escape Leinster's Cian Healy in their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final defeat at the Aviva Stadium (INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
Dan McFarland
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster will swap sides of the Guinness PRO14 next season, moving from Conference B to Conference A.

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The existing structures had been in place for the past two seasons, ever since two South African sides, the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs, were added in the summer of 2017.

The plan had always been to redraw the split dependent on the past season's performance, although there are some early misgivings about its application.

Leinster, for example, have been cast as Ireland's second seed despite being crowned champions last season, an oddity produced by the fact that semi-finalists Munster banked more points during the league campaign.

As such, Leinster and Glasgow - last season's two best sides - are in the same side of the split. Ulster will be alongside them, as will Welsh pair Ospreys and Dragons, as well as Zebre and Cheetahs.

Dan McFarland's men had to finish ahead of the likes of Scarlets and Edinburgh last season to book their Champions Cup spot for 2019-20, but figure to find themselves in a more top-heavy set this time around. This makes a home PRO14 semi-final seem a tall order while concurrently easing the path to qualification for the top tier of Europe.

Teams play fellow conference sides twice and the others once.

PRO14 Conferences 19/20

Conference A

Glasgow Warriors (SCO 1)

Leinster Rugby (IRE 2)

Ulster Rugby (IRE 3)

Ospreys Rugby (WAL 1)

Dragons Rugby (WAL 4)

Zebre Rugby Club (ITA 2)

Toyota Cheetahs (SA 1)

Conference B

Edinburgh Rugby (SCO 2)

Munster Rugby (IRE 1)

Connacht Rugby (IRE 4)

Cardiff Blues (WAL 2)

Scarlets (WAL 3)

Benetton Rugby (ITA 1)

Isuzu Southern Kings (SA 2)

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