European newcomers Olympus Rugby XV Madrid will step into the unknown when they run out at the Galway Sportsground on Friday night to tackle Connacht Rugby in Round 1 of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
And while no-one has played more tournament matches than Connacht Rugby - this will be match No 85 for the Irish province - the Spanish invitation side will be the 80th team to take part in the competition.
They are largely based around the C.R.C. Madrid team, who won the 2009 Division de Honor title after losing just one of their 18 matches and finishing 11 points clear of 2008/09 European Challenge Cup side Cetransa El Salvador.
"CRC won the Division of Honour title and are the reigning Spanish champions but they were not in a position to compete in the Amlin Challenge Cup so the Federación Española de Rugby contacted ERC to see if we could enter an invitation side in the tournament," said Keith Chapman, manager of both Olympus Rugby XV Madrid and the national Spanish team.
"They agreed and the IRB were also very much in favour of our taking part in the tournament as they see this as a real opportunity for our domestic game.
"There are players from CRC as well as those from other clubs and we believe this is the best way forward to help develop the game in Spain and give our home-based players the chance to compete at this higher level."
But Olympus have an ace in their pack in coach Ged Glynn, who is also the Spanish national coach and Team Director as well as experiencing the Challenge Cup tournament back in 2000/01 as the London Irish coach.
Having played fly half for Loughborough University, English Universities and Orrell, Glynn turned his hand to coaching at Loughborough University and then at Cambridge University, where he guided the Light Blues to three Varsity match wins on the trot, with Rotherham, the Exiles and England A following.
"We had a pre-season camp for 30 players up in Meymec in central France and, although it was principally a Spanish national gathering, a lot of them were also qualified to play in the Amlin Challenge Cup," said Chapman.
"Everyone is really enthusiastic and excited about competing in the tournament as it is something we have been after for a number of years and now we have the avenue and opportunity of six matches against quality opposition to develop our
"The strengths of Spanish rugby in general are good skills from fast and attacking players while the main weakness is a lack of the tall players you need for the line-out in particular so we need to develop our forward play and beef up those players.
"We have around 18,000 registered players and, although some of the best of our internationals play their club rugby with French clubs, this is a real showcase for us and we are hoping to get some TV time as this would certainly help promote the game in Spain. Ideally we would love to get one or even two wins and we would be very disappointed if we don't get around 9,000 crowds for our home matches."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.