Newcastle Falcons have been pooled with Lyon, Grenoble and Ospreys in the 2016-17 European Challenge Cup group phase.
For director of rugby Dean Richards that means a trip to his former club Grenoble, the Falcons’ boss saying: “We always enjoy the European Challenge Cup and the exposure it offers our players.
“Playing in France is never easy and we will have two testing fixtures at Lyon and Grenoble, the latter of which I spent some time just over a decade ago. It is a great part of the world and our supporters will enjoy that trip, and in Ospreys and Lyon we also know we will face quality opposition.”
Newcastle and Ospreys will meet for the first time in European competition, the Falcons having faced both Lyon and Grenoble twice in the Challenge Cup.
The 2011-12 tournament saw Newcastle beating Lyon 27-19 at Kingston Park but losing 21-13 at Matmut Stadium. In 2002-2003 the Falcons did the double over Grenoble, winning 19-12 in the Alps and 33-17 on Tyneside.
The format of the 2016-17 tournament remains the same as last season, with the five group winners and three best runners-up making it through to the quarter-finals.
All three European Challenge Cup group games are included in the 2016-17 season ticket membership package, with prices from £208 adults, £176 concessions, £70 under-16s and free for under-11s (two per paying adult). Games covered by the package include all 11 Aviva Premiership home matches, all three European Challenge Cup home group games, both domestic home cup group games and the pre-season double header on August 13. For more information on season ticket memberships call 0871 226 6060.
European Challenge Cup weekends (fixture order TBC)
Round 1: 13/14/15/16 October
Round 2: 20/21/22/23 October
Round 3: 8/9/10/11 December
Round 4: 15/16/17/18 December
Round 5: 12/13/14/15 January 2017
Round 6: 19/20/21/22 January 2017
Quarter-finals: 30/31 March – 1/2 April 2017
Semi-finals: 21/22/23 April 2017
Final: Friday 12 May, BT Murrayfield Stadium