Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has described the pool his side have been drawn in as one of “intrigue” after being put in the same Challenge Cup section as English side Wasps and French pair Bordeaux-Begles and Agen.
It is not a tournament Edinburgh want to be in, following their exploits in reaching the elite Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals, where they lost to Munster, last season then failing to earn re-qualification following a fifth-place finish in their Guinness Pro14 Conference B.
But former Leicester and Toulon boss Cockerill welcomed a Pool 3 draw that will see him pit his wits against an English side and two French teams, similar to their Champions Cup section last season. Edinburgh went on to finish top, ahead of Montpellier, Toulon and Newcastle.
“There will definitely be plenty of intrigue following the draw and we’re excited for the challenge that awaits us in this year’s competition,” said the former England hooker.
“Wasps’ European pedigree [Heineken Cup champions in 2004 and 2007, obviously speaks for itself and it will be a great test for us as a squad to take them on home and away.
“They are a club I know well from my time in the Premiership and we will be looking forward to bringing that quality of side to BT Murrayfield.
“Bordeaux-Begles will be another really tough opponent. They are a squad filled with international talent and we will be relishing the opportunity to travel and prove ourselves against the superstars of French rugby.
“Agen will be another really strong outfit and it will be a great test for our squad to take them on in what is always a hostile environment.
“The Challenge Cup will be another brilliant opportunity for us to prove ourselves against some of European rugby’s best players and we’re really excited for the campaign to get started.” Cockerill’s old club Leicester will face Cardiff Blues, Pau and Calvisano as their pool stage opponents. The Tigers failed to qualify for the Champions Cup following a dismal Premiership season when they finished one place above relegated Newcastle.
Elsewhere, newly-promoted Premiership club London Irish will tackle a testing pool that also features Scarlets, Toulon and Bayonne.
New Dragons boss Dean Ryan will face an appointment with one of his former clubs Worcester in Pool 1, and Pool 4 sees Bristol facing French threats from Stade Francais and Brive.
The tournament starts in mid-November, with the final in Marseille on Friday 22 May 2020.
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP 2019-20 DRAW
Pool 1: Castres Olympique, Worcester Warriors, Dragons, Enisei-STM
Pool 2: Scarlets, RC Toulon, London Irish, Bayonne
Pool 3: Wasps, EDINBURGH, Bordeaux-Begles, Agen
Pool 4: Stade Francais Paris, Bristol Bears, Zebre Rugby Club, Brive
Pool 5: Cardiff Blues, Leicester Tigers, Pau, Rugby Calvisano
Final in Marseille 22 May 2020