They currently lead Pool 5 by three points from Leiceter Tigers, while in Pool 2 there are only two points between Toulon and Cardiff Blues, who meet in Nice on Saturday. Toulouse and Saracens are locked on 15 points apiece in Pool 3 and they also meet on French soil this weekend.
The six Pool winners carry on into the knock-out phase, where they will be joined by the two best runners-up from the Pool stages. The full details of what happens at the end of the Pool stages are as follows.
How They Qualify
The pool winner will be the club with the highest number of match points in each pool. The best-placed runners-up will be the two clubs with the highest number of match points out of the six clubs that finish second in their respective pools. For the quarter- finals, the pool winners will be ranked 1 to 6 and the best-placed runners-up 7 and 8.
Clubs in the same pool If two or more clubs in the same pool are equal on match points, their qualification/ ranking will be determined by the matches played between the relevant clubs as follows:
(a) the club with the greater number of match points from the matches (b) the club that scored the most tries in the matches (c) the club with the best aggregate points difference from the matches
Clubs from different pools If still unresolved and/or if clubs have not played each other previously in the pool stage, qualification/ranking will be determined as follows:
(a) the number of tries scored in the pool stage (b) the best aggregate points difference from the pool stage (c) the club with the fewest number of players suspended for incidents in the pool stage (d) by drawing lots
Clubs ranked 1-4 will have home advantage.
The quarter-finals will be: Club 1 v Club 8; Club 2 v Club 7; Club 3 v Club 6; Club 4 v Club 5
Amlin Challenge Cup Qualifiers
The third, fourth and fifth best Heineken Cup pool runners-up will for qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
The top four Amlin Challenge Cup pool winners will have home advantage with the quarter-finalists ranked as follows:
1 ACC 1 (Top ranked ACC pool winner)
2 ACC 2 (Second ranked ACC pool winner)
3 ACC 3 (Third ranked ACC pool winner)
4 ACC 4 (Fourth ranked ACC pool winner)
5 Heineken Cup 1
6 Heineken Cup 2
7 Heineken Cup 3
8 ACC 5 (Fifth ranked ACC pool winner)
The format of the two best Heineken Cup runners-up qualifying for the quarter-finals as the No 7 and No 8 ranked clubs has been in operation since the 1999/2000 season, with bonus points coming into the equation in season 2003/04.
Here are some quarter-final qualification pointers since those changes came into place:
- No club has qualified as a pool winner with less than four wins.
- Since bonus points were introduced, no club has qualified as a pool winner with less than 17 points. Toulon topped Pool 3 with 17 points in 2010/11.
- No club has qualified as one of the best runners-up with less than four wins.
- Since bonus points were introduced no club has qualified as one of the best runners-up on less than 19 points. Leicester Tigers in 2004/05 and Northampton Saints in 2009/10 qualified as one of best runners-up on 19 points.
The maximum points and wins attainable by each club on current standings are:
Pool 1 Leinster Rugby - 23 points / 5 wins; Northampton Saints - 19 points / 4 wins; Castres Olympique - 18 points / 4 wins; Ospreys - 15 points / 3 wins
Pool 2 Toulon - 25 points / 5 wins; Cardiff Blues - 23 points / 5 wins; Exeter Chiefs - 17 Points / 3 wins; Glasgow Warriors - 16 points / 3 wins
Pool 3 Toulouse - 25 points / 5 wins; Saracens - 25 points / 5 wins; Connacht Rugby - 19 points / 4 wins; Zebre - 10 points / 2 wins
Pool 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne - 25 points / 5 wins; Harlequins - 21 points / 4 wins; Scarlets - 16 points / 3 wins (+ 1 draw); Racing Metro 92 - 16 points / 3 wins (+ 1 draw)
Pool 5 Ulster Rugby - 28 points / 6 wins; Leicester Tigers - 25 points / 5 wins; Montpellier - 16 points / 3 wins; Benetton Treviso - 10 points / 2 wins
Pool 6 Munster Rugby - 24 points / 5 wins; Gloucester Rugby - 19 points / 4 wins; Edinburgh Rugby - 18 points / 4 wins; Perpignan - 17 points / 3 wins