Castres Olympique were in the Heineken Cup last season
Amlin Challenge Cup competitors Castres Olympique need to bring some of their Top 14 form to the cross border competition if they are to progress from Pool 3.
Castres are the new leaders of Top 14 after Clermont Auvergne slipped to a 16-9 defeat away to lowly Montpellier. Castres had earlier assumed top spot on Friday evening following their latest win, a scrappy 16-9 victory away to struggling Bayonne.
Those two results combined to leave Castres at the summit of France's Top 14, a wholly unforeseen situation at the beginning of the season given the traditional dominance of the 'Big Four'.
But Castres have shown an ability to grind out priceless wins this season under the stewardship of new coaching duo Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit. The former may continue to peddle the club's stated party line of securing against relegation, but Castres are now top of the pile after picking up seven wins and a draw in their opening 10 league games.
However, a mixed bag of results in the first bout of Amlin Challenge Cup matches leaves them in a precarious position in their Pool.
Second place is no longer good enough for final eight qualification as the best runner up places have no been scrapped in favour of bringing in three of the best runners up from the Heineken Cup.
That means Castres need to take points from Saracens in the up coming two rounds, and reverse their defeat to Toulon in Round 6.
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.